SPRING HILL — This isn't the first time internationally known opera singer Paul Pitts has done a one-man play. But when he presents The Scribe at First United Methodist Church on Sunday, the tenor, known as the "Christian Pavarotti," says the audience will be seeing something unique.
"I can guarantee that they have never seen or heard anything like this," Pitts said. "It's incredible."
Pitts began touring with the 90-minute dramatic musical last spring and hopes to have performed the show about 125 times by Easter — and to get it into 1,000 venues throughout the country in the next five years.
"This is a good way for people to understand what Jesus did for them at Easter," he said.
That's the reason the church is hosting Pitts.
"Since our music minister is retiring, we have no Easter cantata scheduled," said Steve McManaway, who booked the production for the church. "I felt we needed to put something in place to observe this very important season of the year for Christianity."
Church member Sherrill Windeler told McManaway about Pitts, whom she and her husband, Augie, have heard sing many times.
"Paul is not only a performer, but a very compassionate person whose desire it is to touch the lives of others for Jesus," Windeler said. "He has one of the best tenor voices I have ever heard."
Windeler gave her impressions of Pitts in The Scribe.
"He is the lone performer depicting the life of Christ as told from a scribe's point of view and how he came to believe in Jesus as he followed him and heard the testimony of Simon Peter. It is just a wonderful story that follows the biblical Gospel of Jesus' life and then dying for us."
The story, which is told with 45 minutes of narrative and 45 minutes of music, follows the life of a Roman centurion named Andronicus.
"His father, who is in the Roman senate, has pulled him out of the battlefront and has him assigned as a scribe to follow this religious rebellion, which begins by following in the footsteps of Jesus," Pitts explained.
As the story unfolds, Andronicus interacts with people who played a part in the life of Jesus, such as one of the shepherds who was there at his birth and John the Baptist. The story ends with the crucifixion and resurrection.
Pitts, who plays all of the parts, says he has wanted to do this production for many years.
"I had this vision in my heart of this man following Jesus during his entire life since I was living in California in the '80s and just never acted on it," said the 60-year-old. "A man named John Reynolds came up with the story line."
Pitts took the idea to a team of people, including Mark Siers, who did the orchestration and underscore, along with writing some of the script.
"He's been recognized by Disney as one of the most creative minds in putting things like this together," Pitts said.
The script, which is true to the Bible, was written by a team of writers and includes a scene, where Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, that was written by Pitts' 13-year-old daughter, Elizabeth.
Other writers were Adam Reynolds and Hope Siers. The director is Jesica Reynolds. The designer, who custom-designed Pitts' centurion costume, was Linda Rabbits.
Songs used in the production include many familiar to church-goers, such as The Stranger of Galilee, O Holy Night, The Lord's Prayer, It is Finished and I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary.
"I've never had anything put in my hands to deliver to the world like this," Pitts said. "I'm so excited about this piece."
Pitts' concert repertoire includes songs he has performed in numerous operatic roles.
He has had more than 5,000 performances on seven continents — television, radio and personal appearances. He is scheduled to sing for about 80 media outlets for a 20-day period during the Olympics in London this summer.
Pitts has several recordings, and hopes to have a DVD of The Scribe available in time for his appearance in Spring Hill.