"Use These Hands" features musical highlights from the Virginia Festival of Puppet Ministry and Creative Arts.
Every year since 1999, the people of Rainbow Puppet Productions park their touring van, invite their performing friends from across the country to join them in an annual festival.
The Virginia Festival of Puppet Ministry and Creative Arts has turned into an annual must-attend event for Sunday School teachers, ministers, and lay-people across the East Coast.
"Use These Hands" includes two skits about putting faith into action. The title song has become something of a theme song for puppet ministries.
The cd also includes musical highlights from original musicals presented at the festival including Rainbow's "Noah's Floating Zoo," and "Jonah."
The album features original songs by festival co-founder, David Messick. Most of the material was engineered by Steve Scheffler who teaches music production every year at the festival. Many of the songs feature Tim Tharrington, a main-stay of Rainbow's programs since his first appearance as Hansel in the 1981 tour of "Hansel and Gretel." The festivals other founder, Jason Wiedel, rounds out the creative team. He appears in skits presented on the cd.
Use the skits as miniature productions in children's church or use the songs as lead-ins to children's sermons. "Use These Hands" is fast-moving and fun... but beneath the fun, it challenges us to use our gifts to God's glory.
Details about the songs and skits:
USE OUR HANDS (performed by Steve Scheffler, Tim Tharrington, and David Messick) is something of an anthem to puppetry while being a call to use our gifts, whatever they may be, to the glory of God. We use this as the opening for our festival... giving time in the musical bridge to introduce each of our instructors. In a class or worship situation, this musical bridge allows the song leader to ask children what gifts they are thankful for.
GOD LOVES EVERYONE -- from Rainbow's musical "Jonah" (performed by Scheffler and the Rainbow Chorus) is an uplifting number that grows and soars with each chorus. It's easy to learn and a real crowd pleaser. As fetching as the song is, there is a wonderful lesson underneath... Used in children's church or Sunday School, this is a great springboard into a discussion or lesson on God's requiring us to love not only those who are like us... but those who are very different. This theme from the Old Testament Jonah story can easily segue into a Jesus' admonition to love our enemies.
YOU CAN'T RUNAWAY FROM GOD -- from Rainbow's musical "Jonah" (performed by David Messick and Scheffler) While GOD LOVES EVERYONE hits at the "harder" message in the Jonah story, this song covers the part of the Jonah story many remember from Sunday School lessons... that you can't hide from God. This song is a clear tip of the hat to Del Shannon's 60's classic "Runaway." The style is equally reminiscent of work by the Beach Boys. On stage, this song was sung by a group of fish.
(I WANNA) SHOUT REAL LOUD -- from Rainbow's "Noah's Floating Zoo" (performed by Kenny D'Auria and the Rainbow Chorus) is based on Psalm 150. Make a joyful noise to the Lord... let everything that has the breath of life praise the Lord. This is a terrific song to open camp sessions or lively children's church programs. Yell real loud? Well, it's in the Bible.
IF GOD SAYS YOU CAN DO IT (YOU CAN GET IT DONE) -- from Rainbow's "Noah's Floating Zoo" (performed by Lisa Ryan and the Rainbow Chorus) tells Noah, in a moment of depression, that he can do it... he can build the ark. God gave him the call, God gave him the gifts... now do it! This can lead to lessons on the parable of the talents. It can equally be used to discuss the many gifts, one body lesson in II Corinthians.
ANYWHERE WE WANNA GO -- from Rainbow's "Really Big Dinosaur Show" and MINE, FOREVER (performed by Messick, Scheffler, and Tharrington) can be combined with included musical tags to tell the story free well and accepting Jesus' call to reach out to others. Fish puppets are used to sing ANYWHERE... then the leader discusses how fish can swim up high, down low... going practically anywhere they want to go... they have free will... just as we have free choice... The skit then includes several parables and the feeding of the 5,000. Finally, the skit reminds viewers that they should tell others of Jesus' plan. It ends with a reminder that Jesus promised to be with us "even unto the end of the age." This point is brought home with the song MINE, FOREVER -- another 60's style number sung by the fish.
TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS by Helen H. Lemmel (performed by Scheffler) starts the final skit on the cd. The skit starts with people finding the joy of Jesus and the benefits... many are healed or their lives are made whole... this is celebrated in the next song:
THEN I SAW HIS FACE -- a parody of the 60's hit (performed by Tharrington)
Finally, the lead character questions if it's enough to just believe in Jesus... doesn't that belief compel us to take action... not secure our salvation but as a joyous reaction to all He has given us. This leads to a rousing, full length version of the opening song USE OUR HANDS.
Working outlines, scripts, and details on getting puppets for these skits will soon be posted on Rainbow's website: www.rainbowpuppets.com.
About the writer / composer:
David is the founder of Rainbow Productions, Inc. He created the company's very first production, "Jack and the Beanstalk," in 1977. The show was part of the Charles Taylor Library summer reading program. Since that time, he has created or directed many other programs for the company including "The Really Big Dinosaur Show," and "Babes in Toyland" featuring a cast of over 100, making it one of the largest touring shows created in the state.
His original musical, "The Amazing Adventures of Chessie the Manatee" was the first collaboration between Rainbow, the Virginia Marine Science Museum, and Young Audiences of Virginia. The show has been the company's most requested program to date. It was featured at the state's annual PTA convention the year it premiered.
David was chosen to work at the International Festival of Theater for Young Audiences at the New Orleans World's Fair. There he assisted in Jim Henson's presentation of rare Italian puppets.
David has created character voices for Chuck E. Cheese television commercials. He has worked on development projects for the Disney Channel, Paramount Pictures, and other television producers.
A sought after teacher of performing skills, he was chosen to present at the 2001 Puppeteers of America festival in Tampa. His workshop, "Entertain First" explains his successful marriage of arts and science in the creation of touring puppetry program. His original musical, "Noah's Floating Zoo" was selected as a principal performance at the 2001 FCP National Puppetry Convention.
His most recent productions are "Jonah" which takes the entire audience into the belly of the whale and the Wright Brothers which covers the two from childhood to the first powered flight in 1903.
For 2003, he is creating a new production of Victor Herbert's "Babes in Toyland" starring legendary stage and screen performer Mickey Rooney!