The story of Christmas is being combined with memorable holiday music, lights and a stage show at Anthony Grove Baptist Church in Crouse on Saturday. The brainchild behind the production, Trey Newton, loves going to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with his family.
“It was a family tradition,” he said. “My family would take me to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra every year and I thought, ‘how cool would it be to take this to the church atmosphere.”
Similar to how Paul O'Neill first conceived Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Newton’s goal six years ago was to bring the music and light show of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to Anthony Grove Baptist Church. “Time for a King” merges rock music, lights and worship into an inspirational telling of the greatest story on earth. The show is in its sixth year and has become so popular, it’s already almost sold out.
What all of the musicians who take part in the production have in common is that they share a love of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Some of them were already members of the church, the others came via, as Newton says, “a God-thing.”
“I hosted Lincoln Idol and I found one of our vocalists from that,” he said. “I told my neighbor that I was looking for a certain type of singer and she said, ‘I think I’ve got one for you’ and she pulled the contact up on her phone and I reached out to her.”
The production has 10 members, two pianists, two guitars, bass drums, four singers and a storyteller. To narrate the story from birth all the way to resurrection, Mary, Mother of Jesus, played by Tricia Crocker, is brought down from Heaven.
Not all of the music played during “Time for a King” is TSO-inspired rock. It’s blended with worship music, all done with a fantastical light show, designed by Newton and James Richards. The show has grown over the years. It started out with candelabras and now uses environmental projection and an extremely complex light show.
A Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office detective, Matthew Burgess, has been involved in “Time for a King” for the past five years. He started out playing keyboard and now plays the guitar and fiddle.
“I come to this church and I got to know Trey,” he said. “He’s a young fellow, knowledgeable beyond his years. He just seems to have that old wisdom about him. He had an idea, he always liked Trans-Siberian Orchestra and wanted to bring it in with a Christmas story. It went off so well the first year. Every year it gets bigger and bigger. It’s all good Christian people involved which makes the bond even tighter.”
During the first year, Newton shared that two people from the audience came up to him after the show and said that they’d seen “them” play every year, but this was the first year they’d seen “Time for a King” and this is the best they’d ever heard them all play. They thought the performance was being put on by the orchestra.
Newton has been involved with Anthony Grove Baptist for 13 years. When he was 13 years old, he was struck by some type of virus which made him paralyzed from his waist down. Crocker, who is the minister of children and youth, remembers when Newton was sick.
“The doctor said that he could just start walking or be in a wheelchair,” she said. “It was up in the air. Trey kept saying that he was going to walk and serve the lord.”
One Sunday, after he had been in the wheelchair for eight months, after he was wheeled up on the stage, he was able to get up and walk across the stage and played the drums.
“When he was just 18 years old, he came to me and asked me to be Mary in this performance that he said would be like TSO,” she said. “It blessed my heart that an 18-year-old wanted to do this. At 19, he led the first ‘Time for a King.’”
The proceeds from ticket sales are split between area foster homes and homeless shelters, including Hesed House of Hope, and the children’s and young adult ministries at Anthony Grove. On Friday night the performance is done for free for children living in foster homes and those staying at Hesed House.
There are two showings of “Time for a King” on Saturday, Dec. 7. One is at 3 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and available online at https://www.timeforaking.com or $15 at the door. The show is quickly selling out, according to Newton. Anthony Grove Baptist Church is located at 100 Anthony Grove Church Road in Crouse.