in a Million, an off-Broadway Christmas musical, held at the Roy Arias Studios &
Theaters in Times Square on December 8, encompassed the teachings that the
apostle Paul instructed to Timothy about wealth.
who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and
harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." (1 Timothy 6:9
The play was set at the home of characters Wanda and Suzy Velez, played by Anetta Myroni and Norma Hernandez respectively. They both host an annual Christmas party attended by several members of their church. The evening would test their convictions and reveal secrets about themselves.
JazzCatz, a diverse ensemble who use their music to glorify God, opened up the
theatrical presentation with their talents. Comprising Kevin Davis (saxophone),
Hector Rodriquez Jr. (keyboards), Danny Barrera (drums), Ricardo Guadalupe
(bass), and Pablo Bulat (congo), the band set the atmosphere of the play with a
mixture of jazz, funk, latin and gospel music.
Friendship, acceptance, status and love were just a few themes that peppered the production.
the story unfolds, each character in the play - no matter how holy they purport
to be - becomes tempted by the idea of how more money would make their lives
better. Without careful consideration of the consequences, they all throw
caution to the wind and find themselves playing the lotto.
One of the scenes that was most relatable was when the character Wanda Velez broke down and confessed that she decided to play the lotto because she just wanted to fit in. She admitted losing herself in the midst of wanting to please everyone else.
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?" (Mark 18:36 KJV)
Her sister, Suzy Velez, was the only character who wasn't swayed by the idea of being rich. Although labeled as self-righteous, it was her they all turned to for help once their choice caused their relationships to go awry.
Although the performance was stitched with humor, some scenes were slightly exaggerated and suffered from unsophisticated writing.
One scene in particular revolved around the character Jane Smith, played by Tiffany Stewart, hysterically swatting invisible flies. This resulted from her musing about why underprivileged children advertised on television aren't bothered by the flies that swarm around them. Although, it caused an uproar of laughter, it made one question: "why all the extra swatting?"
scene that seemed over-dramatized revolved around the Jamaican character
Heathjack Jones, played by Michael Earlington. His choreography to his
"stirring the pot" song seemed quite provocative and overplayed.
were also several scenes that were underdeveloped and cut short.
several occasions, the Jehovah's Witness character, played by Jenna Nostar,
entered scenes requesting if anyone wanted to buy a Watchtower. The irony of
the character's request was that Watchtowers are usually freely distributed. It
was an interesting switch up, however, after her second appearance, it was
somewhat confusing and the message was unclear.
character of Jane Smith stated that having the money would make it easier for
her to leave her current marital situation. However, it was unclear as to what
and why she wanted to escape. There was a hint of unhappiness in her marriage
which was not effectively transitioned.
The play incorporated the reality that many Christians tend to justify their actions even though God disapproves of it. This was evident in the group's decision to play the lotto and win the money "for Jesus." After they realized one of the characters, Wanda Velez, had won the winning ticket, greed and selfishness began to fill their hearts.
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:10 NIV)
They slowly agreed to seek help through their pastor. Even then, there were unanswered questions: what did they end up doing with all the money? Did they give it all away? Was a portion of it split between them? Although the story was over, a resolution was needed.
play concluded with the Velez sisters making changes for their next Christmas
party. They were clearly aware that their love for each other was more
important than all the money in the world.
in a Million was produced and directed by Kevin Davis. The cast included Anneta
Myronia as Wanda Velez, Norma Hernandez as Suzy Velez, Michael Earlington as
Heathjack Jones, Roslyn Campbell as Sister Mara, Marcus Arenas as Deacon Lopez,
Carrie Lynette Stringfellow as Pricilla Khak, Kevin Davis as Gupta Khak,
Tiffany Stewart as Jane Smith, Fernando Gamarra as Pete Smith, Alyssa Burgos as
Rhonda Hampton, Paulina Singler as Sandra Lang and Jenna Notar as the Jehovah's
Here is a clip of the latin jazzy rendition of "Mary, Did you Know" that The JazzCatz did at the start of the production. For more information on the group, visit www.jazzcatz.net.