Summer theatre troupe tours Midwest with production of Cotton Patch Gospel


Huntington, Ind.— Huntington College is launching a summer theatre tour of Cotton Patch Gospel, starting Wednesday, June 11 and running through Saturday, August 9. A traveling troupe of ten talented Huntington College student-actors will transform over 40 churches and venues across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions to the fields of Georgia.

This off-Broadway smash hit has been billed as “the greatest story ever retold.” The toe-tapping musical is a delightful adaptation of the Gospels of Matthew and John set in rural Georgia. The high-energy production is sure to please audiences young and old.

Cotton Patch Gospel offers a fresh-yet-faithful look at the life of Jesus Christ and His disciples. The show presents the Good News with warmth, humor and the exuberant joy of the Christian life.

With bluegrass music by Harry Chapin and script from Tom Key and Russell Treyz, Cotton Patch Gospel has been specially adapted for tour this summer by Dr. Don Rainbow, creator of Doc Rainbow’s Colorful All-Star Revue which toured the Midwest in the mid-1990’s.

Don Rainbow, Professor of Theatre Arts at Huntington College, received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining the faculty at Huntington College, Rainbow taught at Christian liberal arts colleges in Minnesota and South Dakota where he established outstanding theatre programs. His summer touring shows have presented high energy musical revues to audiences across the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.

The Cotton Patch Gospel tour is managed by Josh Kesler, a 1993 graduate of Huntington College. Kesler was the first theatre graduate at Huntington College, participating in its first theatre production of Cotton Patch Gospel in the fall of 1992. After the summer tour, Kesler will take on his first pastorate at Bethel United Brethren in Christ Church in Elmore, Ohio.

Mr. Michael J. Burnett serves as the set/lighting/sound designer for Cotton Patch Gospel. Burnett has been Assistant Professor of Theatre at Huntington College since 2001. He has worked in professional theatre as a designer and technician, building over 250 shows for schools and theatre companies across the US, Holland, Croatia, Bosnia/Herzegovina and Yugoslavia. During the summer months, Burnett serves as the Production Manager for the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.

Student-actors for the summer tour include:

Kendra Brenneman, a junior music major from Spencerville, Ohio
Leah Coon, a senior English education major from Sand Creek, Michigan
Josh Dawes, a sophomore English education major from Leesburg, Indiana
Jeff Edgel, a senior elementary education major from Grand Ledge, Michigan
Rusty Eshleman, a sophomore psychology major from Saint Thomas, Pennsylvania
Ashley Fox, a senior social studies education major from Roanoke, Indiana
Zachary Luginbill, a junior educational ministries major from Sandusky, Ohio
Daniel Olson, a junior theatre-performance major from Darlington, Wisconsin
Tyler Radcliff, a sophomore undecided major from Kokomo, Indiana
Drew Wutke, a junior choral education major from Girard, Kansas
Traveling this summer as the tour technician is Zarin Barnes, a sophomore broadcast communication major from Peru, Indiana. Others involved with Huntington College’s production of Cotton Patch Gospel include Justin Spitler , Brent Kuster, Wayne Fox, Nate Perry, Julie Magrum, Bethany Doyle, Matt Webb, Elizabeth Wood, Justin Geiger, Sharon Voss, Sarah McCollough, Caleb Starr, Dave Olson, J. Scott Grinstead, Josh Scott, Rebecca Rodgers and Danielle Villafana.

The tour opens June 11, in Brooklyn, Michigan, at Heart O’ The Lakes United Brethren Church. The closing show of the tour will take place on August 9, in Huntington, Indiana at the Merillat Centre for the Arts. Most shows are open to the public and are free of charge. For a full list of venues and other pertinent information, visit

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Huntington College is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 60 academic concentrations. US News & World Report ranks Huntington among the Top 10 comprehensive colleges in the Midwest. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington College is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in Huntington, Indiana.  


Heather Barkley
Director of Communications
Joanne Green
Sports Information Director