Gordon in the News: last updated 04/23/2009

How Handel Got His Hallelujah: Gordon Theatre Presents Premiere of "Joyful Noise

April 9, 2009
Jo Kadlecek, senior writer
Office of College Communications

WENHAM, MA–For centuries people all over the world have stood whenever the Hallelujah Chorus was sung during the Messiah oratorio. But audiences haven’t always known that its composer, George Frederick Handel, almost didn’t write the famous piece.

This spring as Handel’s works are performed across the globe to commemorate the 250th anniversary of his death, the Gordon College Theatre Arts Department will present the North Shore premiere of Tim Slover’s play Joyful Noise. Based on the true story of Handel’s struggle to write Messiah, Joyful Noise takes the audience on a journey filled with passion, politics and scandal. The show opens Friday, April 17, at the Margaret Jensen Theatre in the Barrington Center for the Arts and runs through April 25.
“This is such a tremendous story of grace, creativity and inspiration,” said Jeffrey S. Miller, director of Joyful Noise, professor and chair of Gordon’s Theatre Arts Department and resident of Hamilton, Massachusetts.“But not many people know how much Handel really went through to bring us the amazing opera we all take for granted.”  
Joyful Noise is set in 1741 in London, England. Handel’s 40th opera has just failed, and he is at his lowest point. The play follows the composer as he interacts with King George II, an actress named Susannah Cibber, and other characters. When a remarkable manuscript arrives at his door, Handel discovers the inspiration for the Hallelujah Chorus that pulls him through a difficult period.
“The story is really about how divine grace intervenes in the lives of people who need it at just the right time,” Miller said. “One act of grace leads to another and the forgiveness of one extends to another. This can change people’s lives.”
As it gets closer to opening night, eight student actors have been balancing rehearsal time with studies and jobs. The cast has been working hard to get into character, learning to talk in British accents and with the help of a movement coach, learning to walk and move like the people of that time period.
“It has been a lot of work,” said Hannah McBride, a senior theatre arts major from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, who plays the character of Kitty Clive. “But it’s exciting to be able to understand and tell this story. And it’s fun to wear wigs, really elaborate costumes and sort of feel like we really are from the 1700s.”
Show times for Joyful Noise at Margaret Jensen Theatre in the Barrington Center for the Arts
(255 Grapevine Road, Wenham, MA; Exit 17 from Route 128):
Friday, April 17, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 18, 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 21, to Thursday, April 23, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 24, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 25, 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 978.867.3400. They can also be purchased at the Gordon College Bookstore, online at www.gordon.edu/tickets, or a half hour before performance time.
For more information contact the Gordon College Office of College Communications at 978.867.4752.


Gordon College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston's North Shore. The College offers majors in 37 fields and has graduate programs in education and music education. Leading the way in Christian college merit, Gordon is nationally ranked for its excellence in academics and its role in character building. These achievements recognize Gordon as one of the nation's top Christian colleges.