In 2007, Austin Vanderzee’s son Brett, was a Junior, attending a Christian high school. That Spring, the musical was South Pacific, and Brett was involved in a “love scene”. Brett unbuttoned his shirt, and slowly went down to the floor with his young girlfriend as the lights faded to black. There were some people who deemed that scene as inappropriate, and rightly so.
The Superintendent requested that the scene be altered to make sure there would be no further offense. After all, the values represented by the school were important to preserve, even if it was an important scene from a popular play. As the cast was exiting that evening, Austin approached the Superintendent to apologize for the tough spot it might have put him in. He turned to Austin and said, “I just wish there were some good Christian musicals out there.”
It was like a spiritual seed had been planted in Austin’s heart. And at that moment Austin decided, he was going to go home, and write a good Christian Musical. There were a couple major problems though. Austin had no musical writing background. And Austin could not read a note of music. But he believed strongly that with the Lord’s guidance, he could do anything, including write a good Christian Musical.
The first thing he did that next weekend, after committing this project to prayer, was to clear off his schedule and head down into his basement. His daughter Amber had been playing piano on an electronic keyboard since she had been 7 years old. He dusted it off, and after rediscovering that there were 8 notes between each octave, he wrote the numbers 1 through 8 in pencil on the entire keyboard. Then as he waded through the gospels, he stopped along the way whenever he felt there should be a song expressing what the Lord was teaching us, and asking for God’s help to express it.
The melodies and words that entered his mind in those three days and nights are nothing short of God-given, because these kinds of songs and lyrics should not be coming from a 52-year-old man who had no formal training in either writing or music, and had flunked high school English.
When Austin emerged from his basement that Sunday night, he believed he had been entrusted with a very powerful Musical on the life of Jesus, and he titled it, Heaven to Heaven, based on John 13:3. Later that month, Austin took the newly written script and songs to the Superintendent, who sent him to the Music Director, and after a few days of reading through it, the Music Director was not prepared to perform it that year. So Austin took it home, where it laid on his basement shelf for almost 12 years.
Then in the summer of 2018, Austin’s friend and business partner Jeff was asking about some of Austin’s creative projects, and Austin remembered the Musical Heaven to Heaven. He asked Jeff if he’d like to take a look at it. What happened in less than 24 hours shocked even Austin. Jeff met with him the next day and said, “My wife Lorrie and I want to see this musical get produced.” Furthermore, they shared the vision that Austin had in wanting the whole world to have this Christian Musical on the life of Jesus. They wanted to make sure every single one of these 21, God-given, original songs, would be heard globally.
And that’s where we are as of today. This Musical, Heaven to Heaven, is not another Godspell, or Jesus Christ Superstar, but is a beautiful walk through the real, true text of the gospels, with 21 original spiritual songs reinforcing the graceful message of hope and salvation for every human soul. Heaven to Heaven Ministries hopes you’ll also share our vision, and that you’ll want to be a part of this important mission, by performing this inspiring Christian Musical, where you live, and soon!