A bit of discernment ahead. If any readers would like to chime in, I’d appreciate.
I’ve fielded a serious suggestion to set my next Bible musical in modern or near-modern times. Naomi and her family leave their rural homestead for the city, maybe Kansas City. Ruth, a city-born daughter-in-law returns with her, and eventually hooks up with Boaz not through the Old Testament tradition of the redeemer, but in a more usual 20th-century courtship.
The music of the times would be easy: lots of jazz (Tin Pan Alley, St Louis ragtime, Kansas City blues, Dixieland, etc.) as well as the emerging acoustic genres of the south: bluegrass, western swing, etc., plus church genres: shape note tunes, gospel, and the like.
I had in mind to polish the Bible-set musical, to do Tobit one step better with my own style. Save the retelling for a revival. But now I’m not so sure. Ruth of the Dust Bowl would be better on a stage rather than in a church. One of the students in the cast said I should consider the marketability of the production. And he was sincere. But am I looking for a bigger market? Or artistic integration? Or inspiring faith? And perhaps all of these aspects are not necessarily exclusive. It is possible to have the story of faith get out there for the widest possible audience–that’s what evangelization is all about, isn’t it?