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King’s Players to perform annual Easter drama, carrying on tradition as Liberty’s oldest ministry team

The King’s Players perform a production of ‘Everyman’ in the Lloyd Auditorium of the Fine Arts Hall in 1984.

With a mobile collection of costumes, sets, equipment, and poignant plays, small troupes of Liberty University students have impacted thousands with the Gospel for close to 50 years now as part of The King’s Players, a traveling drama ministry team that performs to audiences that have ranged from schools to prisons.

The King’s Players are Liberty’s longest running ministry team, established by Dr. Mark and Helen Lloyd in 1974. Teams have traveled up and down the East Coast to perform a variety of plays.

While other schools might have a traveling drama program, longtime director Dr. David Allison said there’s nothing quite like his teams of humble, dedicated students.

“I don’t know of another university in America that has a touring drama ministry whose mission from Day 1 is to share the Gospel, and I think that’s one of the distinctive things about King’s Players,” he said. “We’re looking for people who have a strong desire to serve the Lord and are directable. Nobody is on a scholarship; they are a group of dedicated young people who desire to serve.”

Allison has led the King’s Players since 1977 in addition to being the drama department chair for eight years and an associate professor for 41 years. It is a family ministry for him: his wife, Connie (‘81), is the musical director for the team. She was a performer from 1978-83 and also works as Liberty’s Executive Director for Academic Development.

Members of King’s Players are responsible for nearly every aspect of production — maintaining costumes, setting up and tearing down set pieces, sound and lighting equipment, and more — and with that comes a humble team mentality. It’s not about who plays a lead in one play; that same student is likely working behind-the-scenes in the next one, the couple said.

Members of the King’s Players rehearse for their 2022 Easter performances. (Photo by Ross Kohl)

“Plays change over time and the costumes change, but the mission stays the same,” Connie Allison said. “It’s always been with the idea of either an evangelistic Gospel presentation or something that supports the Church and families. It’s a traveling troupe approach, and the team has always had the mentality that no one is a star, you’re involved in everything.”

This year, the 19-member team traveled during several weekends from August to March, with longer trips during school breaks, performing two plays: “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “Which Way,” an original play written by Helen Lloyd.

The troupe is open to students in all degree programs, with the opportunity to earn Christian Community Service (CSER) hours.

“Nobody does this for any reason other than them having a passion to minister in this way,” Connie Allison said. “It’s a lot of time and effort, and they’re doing it on top of school and maybe jobs. It draws people from various majors to bond as a group. Whether they come back the next year or not, they will leave saying they learned what it’s like to actually lead someone to the Lord.”

During a Spring Break trip to Riverside Christian Academy in Maryland, the team’s bus broke down not long after they left campus, and the students were only able to pack up the necessary production items into vans borrowed from a local church. After only about three hours of sleep, the team performed three times for elementary, middle school, and high school students. By the end of the performances, 22 students accepted Christ for the first time and 49 rededicated their lives.

David and Connie Allison work with team members at a rehearsal. (Photo by Ross Kohl)

“In all three services there we saw people give their lives to Christ, and that was something I had never experienced firsthand before,” said freshman theology & apologetics student Michaela Prevett. “I was able to personally pray alongside a middle schooler and high schooler and walk them through accepting Jesus, and I also had never done that before. Having the opportunity to do that has been one of the coolest experiences not just of King’s Players but my life.”

While double majoring in healthcare management and human resource management,

junior Kaelan Blowers said her experience in King’s Players has been an opportunity to use her love for theatre to share her faith and see God work in the lives of others.

“I’ve aways had a passion for theatre, but I’ve never used that passion for a ministry or for God’s Kingdom to share the Gospel, so being a part of this ministry has made theatre so much more meaningful for me,” Blowers said. “We get CSER for it, but even if we didn’t, I’m sure every one of us on the team would still be on it because the ministry means that much to us. It has definitely been my best experience I’ve had here at Liberty.”

Just as they have since the 1970s, the team performed their recurring Easter piece this month, “Days of Glory,” which tells the story of Jesus and his disciples from the raising of Lazarus to Christ appearing to the disciples in Galilee after his resurrection. The team performed their Easter piece on Palm Sunday and is performing on Good Friday in Gladys, Va., and has two services on Easter Sunday in Birmingham, Ala.

In years past, they have staged multiple walkthrough dramas in the Vines Center, sunrise services on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, and productions with choirs or praise teams from Liberty and otherwise.

In the group’s earlier years, there were multiple teams led by David Allison and Helen Lloyd, one of which would travel 10 months each year.

(Photo by Ross Kohl)

More recently, the team has averaged about 14 members and performs about three plays each year.

The work of the King’s Players has been seen by a wide variety of audiences in addition to churches and schools, including performances at prisons and drug rehabilitation clinics among others. In 2018, the team traveled to Alexandria, La., and saw 350 students give their lives to Christ at a public school, and then performed at a prison in nearby West Monroe, La., that same day and saw at least 15 inmates accept Christ.

The team returned to West Monroe’s Rowland Road Baptist the next year  on a Saturday night and Sunday morning and saw 65 people saved.

“Pastor John Yates  said there were at least 65 salvation decisions, and he said it was the most effective outreach in the history of their church,” David Allison said. “They had knocked on a lot of doors and put up a lot of billboards, but in terms of the community coming in, people who have never been to the church before … that was it.”

The King’s Players also performed to U.S. service members at multiple installations. David Allison recalled when, after a performance in a small town outside of Richmond, Va., he was asked by an audience member if the King’s Players could perform “down the road,” which Allison soon found out was Fort Lee.

“We went and performed for about 600 soldiers, saw 120 give their life to the Lord. The chaplains brought us back, and the second time we performed for 1,200, and 600 stood to their feet to accept Christ as their Savior,” David Allison said. “I know it was 600 on the second visit because (Liberty founder) Dr. Falwell had given me 600 copies of a book he had written, ‘How to Get Started Right,’ and I gave away every book to those soldiers.”

“Within 30 days of our last performance there, those 1,800 soldiers we performed for were all deployed to Kuwait,” David Allison added. “You can’t orchestrate that.”

In 2001, the students performed for 5,500 Marines at Parris Island and saw 550 make a public profession of faith.

“That was a very moving sight to me, this small chapel with rows and rows of soldiers in fatigues kneeling,” Connie Allison recalled.

Last year, they held an informal reunion for King’s Players alumni, with members from the ’80s through present day. Connie Allison said they all had similar stories to tell about their experience with the troupe.

“What we hear the most from those who have participated in King’s Players over the years is how being a part of the team taught them and transformed them spiritually; I know it did for me,” she said. “I still have very vivid memories of times when God taught me particular lessons. I think when you’re on the road and in close quarters with people who are also seeking to minister, that is such a fertile ground for spiritual growth in young students.”


The King’s Players of the Past

The 1978 King’s Players
A 1983 performance of ‘Every Man’
The King’s Players perform in 1995.
An Easter performance from 2011
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