Tonight at the Woodlands United Methodist Church in Woodlands, Texas, Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. will be heard as the voice of God in a staged version of Jennifer Wilder Morgan’s inspirational tale Come to the Garden. There will also be some very complex 3-D and holographic mapping courtesy of Jack Hattingh, whose long list of TV concert broadcasts includes ones by the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi and Sting.
The event is being taped for future dissemination by Fathom Events, which beams this kind of content on a scheduled basis into movie theaters nationwide. Meanwhile, Morgan’s source book, which she initially self-published, is being re-issued Feb. 23 by Simon & Schuster.
How Morgan got to this point is both hard to believe and an inspiration for anyone out there currently pounding the pavement with an unpublished manuscript. Per a write-up in The Woodlands Villager, Morgan never sent out a single query letter for her book or actively marketed herself in that manner. Instead, it was while promoting her tome at the same church that she met Frank Eakin, a congregation member who among other things produced the audio book version of 12 Years a Slave. From the article:
The first task was to find someone to narrate the work for the audio book. He was introduced to Emmy-winner and Today show host Kathie Lee Gifford, who agreed to lend her voice to the project.
“We went to Kathie Lee’s house — she has her own recording studio,” Morgan said. “There couldn’t have been a better person to voice my story.”
Gifford was so appreciative of Morgan’s work, she then introduced Eakin to Squire Rushnell, a co-creator of the Today show and author of Godwinks.
Rushnell introduced Morgan and Eakin to his literary agent, who became Morgan’s literary agent. A month later, Eakin and Morgan met with representatives of Random House and Simon and Schuster, opting to sign with the latter because it owns Howard Books, which publishes the works of Karen Kingsbury and William Paul Young, best-selling author of The Shack.
Young will be there tonight and is set to participate with Morgan in a post-event panel discussion. There are elements of It’s a Wonderful Life in Morgan’s book. Based on her own life experiences, Come to the Garden features a guardian angel who comes down to highlight the ways that God has had an impact on her life.
In the aforementioned article, Morgan has a great quote, suggesting that God has been driving the bus of her recent professional success, only that it’s a really “freight train.”
We’ll no doubt be hearing a lot more about this production. The show features Morgan interacting with animated characters and scenery on stage. Along with the voices of voices of Gossett Jr. and Gifford, there is faith-based comedienne Chonda Pierce, who voices the angel. The show is being directed by Ken Carpenter, who has guided concert films for the likes of Amy Grant.