One of the most controversial and debated books, The Shack, will hit the stage next month in a theatrical project described as having a "Cirque Du Soleil- and Charlie Rose-like interview" feel.
Jim Henderson, executive director of Off The Map, an organization dedicated to taking Jesus to the non-Christian public, decided to get together with The Shack author William P. Young and develop a production of the bestselling book after receiving thousands of stories from people impacted by the book.
The theatrical project, "Stories from the Shack," will feature a combination of music, dance, sand painting, and aerial artistry, along with comments from Young and stories shared by readers.
"Imagine if in the middle of a Cirque performance you could interact with the performers and 'eavesdrop' on conversations between the creators and actors," said Henderson to The Christian Post. "That's the kind of creativity you'll experience at 'Stories from The Shack.' I think of it as style meets substance."
Henderson said producers hope to remind people, including Christians, through the performance that just because there is no happy ending when tragic events happen, it doesn't mean that God isn't there.
Danny Gokey of American Idol fame will participate in the production as a special music guest. According to a statement, producers were eager to have Gokey participate in the production because The Shack played an important part in the singer's life when he dealt with the unexpected death of his young wife.
The idea for a stage performance of the book came to Henderson 30 days after establishing his production company, Jim Henderson Presents.
The pastor noticed that the entertainment industry has a big impact on the way people think and feel and that "the larger cultural conversation about spirituality" is "currently being shaped by entertainers such as Oprah, Chopra, Palin and Beck," according to his blog.
He also observed that even though there are famous influential Christians – such as Bono, Carrie Underwood, The Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber – the artists don't minister to their audience so much as entertain them.
The Shack is the first project of Jim Henderson Presents.
While The Shack has been called controversial and criticized by Christian leaders, including R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Chuck Colson, Henderson defended the book and its author.
"[Young is] really an expert on the Trinity so when people think that he's playing fast and loose with the Bible around the Trinity, they don't really understand how much he thought about it and researched it," said Henderson in a video message Friday. "So I was very impressed with him."
Since he made the project public, Henderson said he hasn't received any negative responses, "but we welcome them, we want them."
"Hundreds of Christians and non-Christians were touched by this book so we encourage everyone to come because the show will create a stimulating conversation about God afterwards," said the co-producer and president of "Stories from The Shack" to CP.
"It is a show that they have not experienced before," he added.
The two-hour book-to-stage adaptation is set to debut at the WaMu Theater in Seattle on May 8. Performances are also scheduled for San Diego on May 20; Boise, Idaho on June 4; and in Denver on June 17. The four shows will work on a budget of about $500,000 and producers plan to take the show to other cities if it is successful.