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Film adaptation of “The Confession Musical” has two Evangel University connections

Published on Feb 8, 2023 by Erin Hedlun

Film adaptation of “The Confession Musical” starring John Schneider and Chonda Pierce has two Evangel University connections

  • Based on books by Beverly Lewis ’72
  • Producer/Director Stephen Yake ’81

FILM RELEASE: Monday, Feb. 20, 2023 (one day only)

“The Confession” musical lead actors Chonda Pierce (left) and John Schneider pose with producer/director and 1981 Evangel University graduate Stephen Yake (hat) and his wife/business partner Jentry.

SPRINGFIELD, MO – An inspirational film adaptation of “The Confession Musical” — a Broadway-style production based on the multi-million-selling books of N.Y. Times Best Selling Author Beverly Lewis — will be released nationally for one day only on Monday, February 20, 2023.

Starring the best-selling female comedian Chonda Pierce and seasoned actor John Schneider, the film is an inspiring and entertaining story of two worlds colliding as a young Amish woman seeks to find her birth mother.

Distributed by Fathom Events, the film will open at approximately 2,500 theaters across the country.*

New York Times Best Selling Author Beverly Lewis, a 1972 graduate of Evangel University, on campus in 2011 with a display honoring her work. “The Confession” musical is based on a trilogy of her books.

Bev Lewis is a 1972 graduate of Evangel University. She was honored by her alma mater as the Distinguished Alumna of the Year in 2003.

Raised in Pennsylvania Amish country, Lewis is an award-winning author of more than eighty books for adults and children. The production is based on her Heritage of Lancaster County series.

USA Today hails Lewis as the “queen of the genre” when it comes to Amish love stories. The musical adapts the trilogy of The Shunning, The Confession, and The Reckoning.

The comedic adaptation for the stage has caught some of her fans by surprise, but Lewis assures them, “Comic relief is needed, due to the heavy themes of rejection and sadness.”

“The Confession Musical” was filmed last August under the direction of Stephen Yake, a 1981 graduate of Evangel University, before two sold-out 1,000-seat performances at the Blue Gate Performing Arts Center in Shipshewana, Indiana.

Also raised in Eastern Pennsylvania, Yake has earned nine Dove Awards, the GMA’s Impact Award, ADDY Awards, ACMA Awards, and he has 20 RIAA-certified platinum and gold videos.

He has produced television and film projects with music superstars such as Brad Paisley and Michael W. Smith, and he has helped craft the public image of global corporations such as Citgo Petroleum and Time/Warner.

Yake was named to the Evangel Communication Department’s Wall of Fame in 2016.

Working with name talent

The Broadway-caliber musical features actor/singer John Schneider, star of “Dukes of Hazzard,” “Smallville,” and “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman,” as he returns to the musical stage from his past Broadway performances in “Chicago” and “Grand Hotel.” Schneider has also charted five #1 country singles during his career.

Lead actors Chonda Pierce and John Schneider in a scene from “The Confession” musical.

Also featured is Emmy-nominated Chonda Pierce, a three-time Platinum best-selling female comedian and actress. She is certified as the RIAA’s best-selling female comedian in the USA.

“Ever since I decided to go into communications production at Evangel, it was a dream that God put in my heart to do a film that would go in theaters nationwide,” said Yake. “Well, He fulfilled that desire this year.”

Commenting on the performers, Yake said, “We utilized all NY and LA talent, so it was a dream directing them — a highlight of my career.”

It is worth noting that John Schneider also co-founded, with Marie Osmond, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which has since raised more than 7 billion dollars for medical research.

An Amish Musical?

In the story, Katie Lapp, a young Amish girl, discovers her parents have been keeping a secret from her… she is adopted. Katie decides to seek her birth mother, defying the rules of her Amish village and risking a shunning.

Meanwhile, her wealthy birth mother, Laura Mayfield, is battling an illness that might take her life. She begins searching for her long-lost daughter to bequeath her inheritance before it is too late.

Secretly plotting against her is the gold-digging husband Dylan (played by Schneider), who is scheming to make sure he inherits her fortune. With the help and prayers of her Christian maid (played by Pierce), the two try to foil Dylan’s plan and reunite Katie and Laura.

Bev Lewis is excited about the way the movie turned out.

“With Chonda Pierce and John Schneider in their starring roles, viewers will be both wowed and inspired by Katie Lapp’s heartwarming love story, rejection (shunning), redemption and celebration during a story journey like no other,” said Lewis.

“Chonda Pierce’s spontaneous antics on stage — her facial expressions! — bring the jovial maid, Rosie, to bursting life,” she continued. “For comedy lovers, Chonda’s stage presence is pure joy.

“John Schneider’s strong portrayal of the deceiving and debonair Dylan Bennet’s character is something to behold. Viewers will love to hate. His lines are delivered so effortlessly, you’re convinced he is Dylan Bennet,” Lewis concluded.

“The Confession Musical” was adapted for the stage from Lewis’ trilogy by Emmy-nominated screenwriter Martha Bolton. The play has more than 10 years of performances with more than 200,000 tickets sold prior to the filming last summer.

Blue Gate Musicals, LLC was formed in 2010 to create relevant, meaningful and entertaining original musicals.

Thus far there have been nine successful Broadway-caliber musicals, from the heart of Amish Country, with three partners presenting these musicals. Their theatre in Shipshewana, Indiana led the way in 2010, followed by theatres in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, in 2011 and Sugarcreek, Ohio, in 2012.



SIDEBAR: Tickets

* To find a theatre anywhere in the USA, click here: theatres.

The film was originally scheduled for Springfield at the Regal College Station, which unexpectedly closed on Jan. 5, 2023. The closest theatres for Southwest Missouri residents are the Regal Northstar in Joplin, Mo.; Eagles Landing Cine in Lake Ozark, Mo; and Malco Pinnacle Hills Cinema 12 in Rogers, Ark.

According to Beverly Lewis, for those unable to attend the theatre, “The Confession” musical will air on UP Faith and Family TV closer to Easter.