Mark your calendars for June 3! The story of Jonah will come from the stage to the screen in the first time ever that Sight & Sound Theatres’ will take their stage play and bring it to 700 movie theatres across the country in a one-night theatrical event.
Filmed in front of a live audience in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, JONAH: On Stage! is a spectacular performance that offers delightful humor, cinematic music, massive sets, amazing costumes and a breathtaking underwater scene featuring a huge 40-foot whale.
Rodney Coe plays the title character in Jonah, and has performed the role live for hundreds of thousands of people who have come to the Sight & Sound Theatre. Now after being filmed in front of a live audience, Coe will now make his cinematic debut in Jonah: On Stage!
Coe has an incredible story of his own. After earning a full ride scholarship, graduating college and landing in New York City and performing in theatre in his early twenties, his dream came to a sudden halt. One night on his way home he was mugged and severely beaten. He was left barely alive, with brain damage and the need for facial reconstructive surgery. Struggling to make ends meet with limited cognitive ability, he resolved to filling popcorn at a movie theater concession stand. However God had a different plan. Through a miraculous reversal, Coe found himself not just with the opportunity to act again, but eventually cast in a leading role.
Risen caught up with Coe to hear about what it means to see his life come full circle.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: What does it mean to you to get to play Jonah on stage, and now on screen for the theatrical event? Especially not only landing a leading role but this time around it is Kingdom-building?
Rodney Coe: It’s incredible. The beauty of getting to do this specific role is that I was able to bring so much of what I had just gone through to the role. I knew what it was like to run from the Lord. I knew what it was like to live in fear. I was making all my decisions for all the wrong reasons, and so was Jonah.
I was able to pull from a deeper well because I went through all of this. And the funny thing is for years I honestly thought that it was the Lord who made all of this lousy stuff happen to me. And then I finally had this moment, about five years after… where I saw the entire mugging… I was crying out to the Lord and I was like “Lord I don’t get it.” Thinking, “What is the point? I don’t get it.” I’m angry, and He allows me to see this whole thing from above, and I see this person that I don’t know. The person was all white. There were arms, there were legs, but I didn’t see facial features, it was just light, appear in the middle of these three guys. And touch them, and that’s when they left. And I didn’t know how I got from where I got mugged to my apartment, because I shouldn’t have been able to walk. Just because of how rocked I was. And in this vision, this person, this thing, picks me up, carries me, sets me down at my apartment, right at the door, touches my face, and said, “This will make you stronger.” And then was gone.
There was some post-traumatic stress there too. After I got jacked in the back of the head, everything went white and then it went black, but I could still hear it all. That was what would replay when the migraines would be at their worst. But from that moment on, there was never another migraine.
And I realized at that moment that I had been blaming God for all of the stuff that happened in my life. Thinking that it was Him — that either He was distant, or He made it happen — when it was the exact opposite. He was the one that was bringing me through it, and making me stronger through it, and essentially changing my character because I needed it. I needed to know who I was. I needed to know my identity in Christ. Being brought to the bottom there is a choice, you can either stay down there, or you can cling to the one who can take you out of anything. And I just chose to do that, and He did.
So, getting to play Jonah has been a lot of fun. This show is a blast. In this show, there is a song at the end, the princess sings of Ninevah. She sings, “I’m free.” It’s just a song about the Ninevites accepting God and being set free, even though they don’t know if the Lord is going to destroy them yet. And after all that time has passed, Jonah comes around at the very end and sings the same song because he realizes who he is, and whose he is. To get to do that eight, nine times a week now for years has been a huge part of my own walk, and my own emotional recovery and all that as well.I get to bless people with it, and yet the Lord continues to bless me with the work that I do. It’s incredible. I wouldn’t do it for anybody else. I don’t know that I would go back to theater for anything unless it was brought forth from the Lord.
Look for our full interview with Rodney Coe in our Summer issue of Risen Magazine.
For more information about Jonah: on Stage! check out: http://www.jonahonstagemovie.com
And to get tickets for one-night theatrical event on June 3 visit: https://www.fathomevents.com/events/jonah-on-stage?date=2017-05-02