Academics, Campus wide, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Theatre

Students, alumni cast in Daniel and the Kings world premiere

By Jenna Johnson | September 22, 2023
Students and an alumna of Charleston Southern University perform in the world premiere of DANIEL AND THE KINGS. Adelaide Lovelady and Luke Jones pictured on the far right. Photo by Willow Oak Photography

Joining Broadway, Off-Broadway, and local performers, four students and an alumna of Charleston Southern University add to the talented cast of Daniel and the Kings where they bring an incredible biblical story to life on the big stage. This musical has been 13 years in the making, and the Charleston stage is where it kicks off. 

The world premiere of Daniel and the Kings, a new musical written and produced by Chuck and Karen Smith, runs September 21 – 24 at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. CSU participants include students Luke Jones (Prince Marduk and Ensemble), Michael Trimboli (Daniel’s Father understudy and Ensemble), Meredith Lane and Annalisa Blevins (both Ensemble), as well as alumna Adelaide Lovelady (Ensemble). Faculty from CSU’s Horton School of Music & Performing Arts also contribute to this world premiere, with Prof. Thomas Keating, professor of theatre, as consulting producer, and Dr. Nicholas Holland, director of bands, and Dr. Elaine Ross, adjunct faculty member, serving in the live orchestra.

Set in 614 BC, Act One introduces 8-year-old Daniel and the history behind the Babylonian exile. There are serious and comedic tones throughout the musical, and some familiar biblical characters hit the stage, such as Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and King Nebuchadnezzar.  

Keating, who provided technical supervision and production management for Daniel and the Kings, is known as a connector-of-people person. Through CSU alumni connections and a close relationship with local theatres, Keating met the writers Chuck and Karen. For the last 18 months, Keating has been involved in scenic elements, lighting, and more.  

According to Keating, to see it all come together on the North Charleston PAC stage is a dream—even more so because of the faith aspect.  

“Too often we see Christian productions and think the quality will be lower,” he said. “In this case, I can tell you that you will be blown away by the voices, the scenic elements, the music, and the whole story. The caliber is top tier.” 

Keating added that he is incredibly proud to see his own students and alumni perform at this level.  

“I see them almost every day, and they are in awe of the talent they can work alongside of,” he said. “They are both learning and experiencing what it means to achieve their goals. They are seeing it come to life in front of them.” 

Pictured in the Ensemble cast: Meredith Lane (on steps in gray), Michael Trimboli (to far right of Meredith in gray), and Annalisa Blevins on the front row, one person over from far right). Photo by Willow Oak Photography

The writers and producers of Daniel and the Kings attended shows at CSU and noted several student performers, ultimately asking Keating to connect them.  

Luke Jones is one of those students. Jones studies voice and theatre at CSU and is no stranger to the CSU Lyric Theatre stage, having played Randy in Curtains and Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls. He has also been in productions with the Flowertown Players in Summerville and SHEEP—a homeschool musical theatre group in the Charleston area.  

“It honestly means a lot to be a part of such a big production on a professional level,” said Jones. “It has been such an honor to work with everyone and being one of the many people who get to start this whole process.” 

Senior vocal performance major Annalisa Blevins has been singing and acting in musicals and plays since age 7, with her first professional role at age 15 in SC Actor’s Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in downtown Charleston. In addition to Ensemble, she is the understudy for the role of the Queen in Daniel and the Kings. 

She said, “This opportunity has been such a blessing to learn from my coworkers (all of whom are incredibly talented), from Brad and Jenny Moranz—our incredible directors—and to practice what I’ve studied and performed around the world. I am so thankful they have taught me professionalism and skill which have prepared me to work at this level.” 

Michael Trimboli, a music education major at CSU who has performed for the campus stage in Curtains and Guys and Dolls, agrees. “This opportunity makes me feel like the work that I have been putting in and the education that I have received the past three years at CSU has been valuable. I never expected to be able to perform at this level with Broadway performers, but I am excited and honored to be on the stage with them.” 

Jones hopes that through this world premiere “people live through this story of Daniel with us as we do this production and that we show how God’s grace can be shown through a musical.” 

It’s not too late to grab tickets. Four shows remain at the PAC, and tickets are only $25. Tonight’s show begins at 7:30 p.m. and doors open an hour before showtime. Learn more at  

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