Acts the 3-Man Show: Spreading the Gospel
The men of Acts the 3-Man Show (or A3MS) are on a mission to spread the gospel through performance.
This professional, bi-coastal drama team (two of the actors are from Los Angeles and the other is from Northern Virginia) meets up many times a year to perform the show, something they feel is their calling as believers and artists.
This has been a difficult and often costly path, but one that has been immensely rewarding. For actors Bryce Lenon (playing Paul, Herod, Caiaphas, and others), Reggie Austin (Stephen, Mark, Luke, Nero, and others) and Gabriel Rivera (Peter, Barnabas, Julius, and others) the paths have varied but led to the same conclusion: they want to use their acting talents to advance the Gospel.
Before focusing on Christian drama, the actors pursued stage and screen careers in Los Angeles, which can be exceedingly difficult given the industry’s propensity to produce more and more depraved shows that Christians can’t be involved in.
Lenon, also the show’s author and director, says, “Being an actor is Los Angeles became more and more problematic for me. I enjoyed many of the characters I played, but found that more and more roles that I was auditioning for contained a serious compromise to my testimony if I was to accept them.”
He then endeavored to write and produce biblical stage dramas that allowed him the freedom to exercise his talents without fighting his conscience at the same time. A3MS was born out of a desire to felt to produce and perform in a play that blended biblical accuracy and artistic excellence. Lenon decided to move his family from Los Angeles to Northern Virginia two years ago to run the show from there.
For Reggie Austin, staying in Hollywood has allowed him to witness to other actors and enjoy exercising his talents while treading carefully through the scripts and auditions. A great church family in Los Angeles helps keep him grounded and focused on Christ. Being able to testify to the Gospel on and off stage energizes Austin, who is profoundly excited to internalize the Word of God as a character as well as a reader.
As an avenue of spiritual and artistic fulfillment, Austin credits the experience of working on A3MS as being life-changing, saying, “This show has given to me far more than I have to it, both artistically and spiritually. The Lord has drawn me closer to Himself through this ministry.”
Gabriel Rivera became involved in A3MS from a different route – he was already acting in Christian dramas at the Academy of Arts in South Carolina and was able to integrate his talent into a type of ministry experience he was already familiar with. Rivera took over from JD Jackson (who originated the role of Peter in Los Angeles) when the show’s production headquarters switched to the East Coast in 2013.
Rivera was quick to pick up the fast pace of the show and the nuances of the character since he already played Peter in a production at the Academy. For Rivera, Christian drama is the highest from of the art, because it contains the exact truth rather than the types of philosophical ‘truth’ that secular drama puts forth. And the experience in the show has helped sanctify his walk with the Lord as well. He concludes, “I cannot think of a more poignant and gracious way for God to have taught me the lessons I’ve learned from these characters in the book of Acts than to portray them on stage.”
Both Lenon and Rivera are members of Trinity Bible Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia, while Austin is a member of Cornerstone Church in Los Angeles. When the actors are scheduled to perform they fly-out from the east and west coast (along with tech director, Nathan Winston) and meet at the venue a day early to run-through the show. The original rehearsal period was so intense that the show is almost second nature once they get together.
The desired effect of the show is to strengthen believers and evangelize unbelievers. For this reason the men of A3MS are adamant that the gospel message is not watered down.
Lenon reflects on this, saying, “Often Christian dramas attempt to tell an exciting story with a degree of narrative accuracy but neglect to portray what Christ demands of us. What we’re attempting to do with A3MS is to excite the audience, but appeal to truth above spectacle (although there is plenty of both in the show), so when Peter boldly declares that ‘there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,’ the audience is energized by truth over just entertainment. When you see Stephen and Paul suffering for the truth as they did, you are compelled to count the cost of following Christ, but enriched for doing so. And of course, there’s an awesome shipwreck scene that’s almost pure action, so the show is fun as well. But the message is serious as the Gospel is serious. Most people who see the show, young and old, are surprised by the transforming nature of the message, and that’s exciting to see.”
Touring since 2011, the show is gearing up for a fall run in Northern Virginia and a 2016 spring tour across the country. For more information, go to acts3manshow.com.