'The Gospel of John' off-Broadway play receives rave reviews from theater critics

Ken Jennings performs a scene from 'The Gospel of John' at The Sheen Center in New York City, New York, December 2019.
Ken Jennings performs a scene from "The Gospel of John" at The Sheen Center in New York City, New York, December 2019. | The Sheen Center/Maria Baranova

The off-Broadway play "The Gospel of John" has received rave reviews from theater critics since its opening night and is being hailed as one of the “best Christmas shows” in New York City this season.

Created and performed by award-winning Broadway actor Ken Jennings (“Sweeney Todd,” “Grand Hotel” and “Side Show”), "The Gospel of John" is a powerful 90-minute solo performance of the Gospel account in the book of John.

“I memorized this first as a prayer, not as a play,” Jennings said in a statement shared with The Christian Post. "I started memorizing 'The Gospel of John' as a spiritual practice during a difficult time in my life. I've always had an affinity for John, which has always seemed to truly be a firsthand narrative by a man who was actually there." 

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The production sets the scene for the audience by quoting from the New Testament book: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. And the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth: we have beheld his glory." (John 1:1,14)

The production has received numerous rave reviews since its opening night at the end of November. 

The New York Times said in its review: “Plays can bring spiritual solace. On the unadorned stage, two flights below Bleecker Street, the actor Ken Jennings had only a single prop: a compact Bible. When theater is a religious experience, faith has a powerful role.” 

Time Out New York added: “One of the best Christmas shows in NYC this holiday season. ‘The Gospel of John,’ directed by John Pietrowski, tells the eyewitness account of the Apostle John and his life with Jesus. Jennings performs John’s 2000-year-old testimony in a dynamic way that has reviewers feeling like the events took place today."

Talkin Broadway also reviewed a performance of the play and described it as “masterful storytelling.”

“Make no mistake about it, Jennings gives a thrilling performance. The phrase ‘tour de force’ is often bandied about to distinguish a one-person show. What makes Jennings’ execution all the more remarkable, and especially deserving of the tour-de-force appellation, is his ability to make the discursive, nearly two-millennia-old, literary work pulse with urgency and wonderment. With direction by John Pietrowski, Jennings animates the biblical figures with distinctive characteristics. …Masterful storytelling.”

Set design for "The Gospel of John" was created by Charlie Corcoran, lighting by Abigail Hoke-Brady, costume design by Tracy Christensen, and sound by M. Florian Staab. 

The off-Broadway production runs through Dec. 29 at The Sheen Center New York City, New York. Tickets are available online at

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