He’s found his calling.

Derrick Williams, who portrays The Rabbi in the musical “The Rock and the Rabbi” takes his role very seriously.

Williams has played this part since the beginning of the musical eight years ago.

The musical is based on the Biblical accounts of the three-year relationship between Simon, called Peter, and Jesus. Jesus is called The Rabbi (teacher) throughout the show.

There was a lot of nervousness in 1998. “When we started out, it was a tester,” Williams said during a telephone interview with the McAlester News-Capital Thursday.

They didn’t know what kind of reception audiences would give the show at first, he explained.

But “the reception was so awesome,” he said. From then on, it was “let’s try it again, let’s try it again. And it just took off,” he added.

As a vocalist and jazz pianist by trade, Williams said in the beginning it felt unusual to be onstage without an instrument in front of him. “God gave me my instrument,” he said. Williams has a sweeping vocal range of five octaves. “I get to use my five octaves for God,” he said.

“It’s a powerful show,” he said. “My job is to remember the message” and pass it on to audience members. Even after all these years, he still gets caught up in the moment. “I was asked the other day, ‘do you get tired of doing this?’ No. I’m emboldened.

“You grow into the words of the Lord. You don’t just start out with it,” he added. “God knows I’ve made mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. I really appreciate God giving me another opportunity to be able to give a good personal testimony.”

“We’re obeying a call we’ve been chosen for,” he added, noting he has seen changes in those involved with the show.

He said the main thing this play does for its players is it gives them more in their walk, both during the show and after the show. “It changes each person collectively and individually.”

He explained the cast and crew gather before each show for prayer. “I’ve heard guys pray you never thought would pray — and they volunteer to do it.”

He added sometimes he feels they are similar to the apostles from the Bible who really believed and loved the Lord. He said the apostles walked down the roads from town to town sharing their message of God. “We’re on the road with cars and planes. It’s not like getting dust on your feet.

“We’re not called to convert. Our job is to plant the seed. God does all the rest.”

Williams also quoted the Biblical verses about eyes that do not see and ears that haven’t heard. “Faith is not something you see. You don’t get an e-mail saying this is what’s going to happen. You’ve got to have faith.” Williams has his own record label and thought that was the way he was supposed to go with his life. But that’s obviously not the case.

Recently, the musical was shown in an outdoor arena at Fort Collins in Colorado. “I never imagined I’d sing to 6,000 people.”

He noted sports arenas have the large screens where those in the back can see what’s happening on the field. “I experienced that and I wasn’t playing ball,” he laughed.

“The things that God has in store — it’s just blowing me away.”

The show will be in McAlester Wednesday and Thursday at the S. Arch Thompson Auditorium, Second Street and Adams Avenue.

Tickets are $20 each and groups may purchase in blocks of 10 tickets and then receive five free tickets. These are all reserved seats. Doors open at 7 each evening with the show beginining at 8. The production is an hour and a half without an intermission. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 423-0990 with a credit card or in person at the First Baptist Church, 100 E. Washington Ave.

To learn more about the national tour, visit www.therockandtherabbi.com.

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