Gambling and gospel don't usually mix, but Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City hosts a gospel musical, "When the Child Cries," Friday and Saturday.
Proceeds from the two performances will be donated to the American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, said Leroy A. Harris, who wrote and directs the musical.
The play tells of a mother and daughter who move from North Carolina to New York City for a better life, against the advice of the mother's father and the daughter's biological father. The city proves too large and too cruel for them.
The musical features old and contemporary gospel favorites along with a few original songs, said Harris of Glassboro, Gloucester County. This is the first musical Harris has written. Harris has been producing his musical for the past three years, but this is its first appearance in southern New Jersey.
"It is a production that is unlike any other with a unique theme that is about salvation and incorporates audience members getting saved during the final act of the production," said Harris about the show, which will be performed in six acts.
The musical features nine principal parts out of a total production of 74 people. More than 30 pastors from the Fellowship of Churches in Atlantic County will be on stage for the show's final act.
"When the Child Cries" had to be held in a casino with a formal theater and not a church or school because props will be flying in and out as part of the production, Harris said. The show has been performed 18 times at Rowan University in Glassboro, he said.
"I like what he (Harris) is doing in terms of making the contribution towards Sandy, Sandy victims. The charitable aspects, I liked," said Bishop John Gandy, the pastor of Pentecostal Abundant Life Worship Center Church in Egg Harbor City, who will be in attendance. "I also was attracted to the opportunity of taking the kingdom of God into that arena."
Harris said he would like to use his gospel musical to help people affected by hurricane, not only in Atlantic City, but in the entire region. Resorts is donating the use of the Superstar Theater.
"When the storm hit, it hit everybody. The storm didn't say, 'I'm only going to hit this group and not that group,' so I wanted to make sure that my activities were multi-cultural. That's why I picked the Red Cross because I feel they help everybody regardless of who you are. It's based on what you need," Harris said. "I want to try to help people who need the help."
Contact Vincent Jackson:
'When The Child Cries'
Staged 9 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday in the Superstar Theater at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. Tickets are $35 for general admission and $45 for preferred seating and are available through Ticketmaster at
ticketmaster.com or at the Resorts
box office. For more information, visit whenthechildcries.org