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'Two from Galilee' musical opens at Light the Way Church in Cottage Grove

“Two from Galilee,” which opens Friday at Light the Way Church in Cottage Grove, depicts the courtship of a young Mary and Joseph. Mary, played by Isabelle Reding, 17, clashes with her disapproving parents, played by her real life mother and father, Trish and Denny Reding of Grey Cloud Island. (Bulletin file photo)

Mary and Joseph had problems long before they saw the “no vacancy” sign at the Bethlehem Best Western.

The teenage Mary’s parents opposed her marriage to Joseph. You can do better than him, her mother said. What kind of life will you have with a poor carpenter?

Joseph’s mother wasn’t thrilled either. She wanted to marry him off to a loud woman named Leah.

The unlikely romance of two young people, their marriage and their journey to Bethlehem form the premise of “Two From Galilee,” a musical that runs the next two Fridays and Sundays at Light the Way Church in Cottage Grove.

The cast, which is drawn from the church congregation, has been performing the show for 20 years.

“Two from Galilee” was composed by Robert Sterling and Karla Worley. Musical numbers include “All I Ever Wanted,” “A Match Made in Heaven,” “Journey to Bethlehem” and “Gloria in Excelsis Deo.” It’s based on the best-selling novel by Marjorie Holmes.

Isabelle Reding and James Magee have taken over the roles of Mary and Joseph. They were toddlers when Magee’s parents, Lynn and church pastor John Magee, first played Mary and Joseph 19 years ago.

“In terms of the quality, there’s not many Christmas shows that I know of that have the caliber of music of this show,” James Magee said. “It’s really a family-friendly show. It’s humorous at times. It’s very heavy and emotional at times, but it’s very relatable.”

John Magee, who has been undergoing treatments for cancer, will play the Angel Gabriel.

“He’s excited that he’s well enough to be part of the show,” his son said.

Mary’s disapproving parents will be played by Reding’s real life mother and father, Trish and Denny Reding of Grey Cloud Island.

James Magee said he likes the way “Two From Galilee” combines the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of Jesus with the events that lead up to the Nativity.

“To see all of those things in one place and then try to imagine what it would be like for an average, everyday person to be put in extraordinary circumstances, is a fun perspective,” James Magee said.

If you go:

"Two From Galilee” runs 7 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16 and at 3 p.m. Dec. 11 and 18 at Light the Way Church, 7000 Jamaica Ave., in Cottage Grove. Admission is free but a freewill offering will be taken. Proceeds go toward “TreeHouse,” a community based-church housed youth program serving south Washington County. To reserve seats, call 651-459-4145 or visit

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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