Surprising Merrily – Written by Ron Speers – Produced by Joe Russell from Joe Russell on Vimeo.
Shot on a sound stage using Hollywood professionals, this no run of the mill “Christian film.” Its premise is that good entertainment can be a means to impart knowledge to an audience. This delightful little movie about a crisis in the career of a mythical television host answers the question “What is Anglicanism?”
The night before a make-or-break performance to save her long-running TV talk show from cancelation, Merrily Inclement dreams of dominating the morning’s guest appearance of “some religious guys”—as her producer dubs them. The dream quickly unfolds as a prickly interview of historical Anglicans Thomas Cranmer, Richard Hooker and C.S. Lewis. The indelible performances in Surprising Merrily will stay with you to help you explain “Why I’m an Anglican.”
Although Anglicans comprise the largest Protestant group globally, hardly any lay people can explain Anglicanism to their friends, simply and effectively. How to get people up to speed about Anglicanism, in reasonably short order?
What if there were a movie about it, an entertaining movie that wasn’t “churchy” at all. Though Merrily Inclement and her Surprising Merrily television show are fictional, the four characters meet in a literary form called a “supposal” where, as they explore Anglicanism, we are reminded that a personal encounter with the faith once for all delivered to the saints has a special way of producing surprises.
The actors are professionals. Caryn Richman (Merrily Inclement) has appeared in a long list of Hollywood feature films, and numerous TV shows. Ted Barton (Thomas Cranmer) is noted for dozens of appearances in repertory theater groups, both modern theater and Shakespeare. Peter Husmann (C.S. Lewis) played the starring role of John Adams in the road show of the Broadway musical 1776. Norman Snow (Richard Hooker) has appeared in dozens of TV show and TV movies.