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Moraine Valley Church’s Christmas play has military theme

Abraham Bowater play 'The Road Leading Home: A Christmas Story' which was written staged by members Moraine Valley Church Palos

Abraham Bowater in the play "The Road Leading Home: A Christmas Story," which was written and staged by members of Moraine Valley Church in Palos Heights. | Supplied photo

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What: “The Road Leading Home: A Christmas Story,” an original musical drama written by Dan and Michaelle McClowry

When: 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Moraine Valley Church, 6300 W. 127th St., Palos Heights

Admission: Free

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Updated: January 7, 2013 7:04AM



Giving a military theme to Christmas songs and movies is not an unusual idea.

Bing Crosby sang about it in 1943 with “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and later, in 1954 when he made the movie “White Christmas.”

Now comes an original musical drama “The Road Leading Home: A Christmas Story,” written by Dan and Michealle McClowry of Moraine Valley Church in Palos Heights.

Like “White Christmas,” it’s a full-length production, and like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” it shares the feelings of soldiers writing home and their families.

“This is not your typical sugar-coated Christmas play,” Dan McClowry said. “It’s a serious topic about how a fictitious family deals with doubt and conflict. We were worried that it may be too serious, but it ends on a positive note.”

The McClowrys have often penned and performed sketches for Sunday services with the church’s drama team, but this is their first full-length play. What makes their story so personal and powerful is that it is based on the writings of soldiers from within the Moraine Valley Church family.

It includes the actual words of Marine Corporal Kevin Clarke, son of church members Cathy and Phil Clarke, who was killed in Iraq in January 2005, and the diary and experiences of Michaelle McClowry’s two grandfathers, Phillip Hague, a D-Day medic in World War II, and Clifford Lovelace, who was killed in action.

A line in one of the play’s songs sums up its theme: “Jesus never said it was an easy road to travel. He only said that you would never be alone.” It was a song Cathy Clarke often listened to in the days after her son’s death, McClowry said.

McClowry -- who has a master’s degree in theater -- was asked to write a full-length military-themed Christmas play by the church’s women’s group for its annual Christmas tea. He and his wife -- who has directed many plays -- began writing in February. They interviewed Cathy Clarke, who described what it was like as a parent to experience her son’s death and how she coped.

“This is the biggest project we’ve ever done,” he said.

At center stage is a family preparing to celebrate Christmas and remembering their loved ones. To one side is the World War II medic writing home. On the other is a young soldier, representing Kevin Clarke, emailing messages home.

The family’s faith is challenged in this time of war, and the daughter is angry and upset that God would allow such horror as war to happen.

The play was so well-received when performed for 400 people at the women’s Christmas tea, that the church decided to stage it for everyone. There will be one free performance at 6 p.m. Sunday at the church, 6300 W. 127th Street.



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