John Sleadd, musician, pastor, and fifth-grade teacher, was moved by Martin Luther's bold stand against the institutional church, his transformation, and devotion to his faith. Sleadd felt that a musical, complete with satire and humor, would help Luther's character become more engaging to the modern audience. In fall 2015 he wrote and directed a fourteen-minute sketch with an enthusiastic troupe of actors--within eight weeks' time. The performances took place in the Jerome Prairie Community Hall to an audience of 120+.
CLARION THEATRE COMPANY was founded in 2015 by John and Arden Sleadd of Grants Pass, OR.
The idea of a new faith-based theatre company had been in the back of Sleadd's mind for some time. With his acting and singing experience in community theatre ("Scrooge, the Musical" in 2014 and "Mary Poppins" in 2015), he was moved to write original works that offered audiences faith-inspiring, redemptive themes, with the theatre company as the platform. His motto is: "make 'em laugh, make 'em cry, send them home happy and humming." His wife Arden organized the company by forming a board and pursuing funding sources.
In June-July 2016,"The Prodigals: Faith Can Lead You Home" was completed and performed in five shows to sellout crowds in Barnstormers' Theatre. The process took an amazingly short time--only nine months from the time John began writing to the time it was performed!
In October 2016, the company hosted a dessert dubbed "A Candle in the Night", for 130 attendees. For that event, John wrote four songs to be used for a full-length musical about Martin Luther, to follow a year later. The songs were choreographed with a cast of twelve costumed performers.
"Here I Stand: the Monk Who Turned Religion Upside Down" was performed October 14-21, 2017 at Rogue Theatre in four shows, to 792 patrons. This marked the quincentennial of the Protestant Reformation, which was initiated by Luther's nailing his Ninety-Five Theses on the Wittenberg Chapel door in 1517.
In Clarion's third season, 2018, John Buckley Sleadd returned to the book and score of "The Prodigals," revising extensively, adding plot and character development, more musical selections, and orchestration for seven musicians. The revised production was staged at Grants Pass' Performing Arts Center in June-July 2018 to an audience of 840.