With a great amount of acting talent and a generous dose of humor, "Joyful Noise" is an outstanding production. It tells the story of the composition and production of George Frederic Handel's famous and beloved oratorio "The Messiah."

This show offers some excellent characters that are skillfully created by the actors. In fact, the expertise of the actors is one of its great strengths, and the audience responded, granting the cast a standing ovation on opening night.Having heard the music of this great work many times, I found it quite interesting to get a glimpse of the challenges Handel faced in getting it staged. In the story, the composer is struggling to recover from a series of failed operas when he is persuaded to put to music a collection of scriptures. The clergy of London opposes the work, particularly as Handel has cast a singing actress with a scandalous past as one of his soloists. Handel struggles to prove his music is appropriate for the sacred text.

Jason Tatom does a good job in the role of Handel, especially when he slips into one of the fits of anger his character is known for. Playing the role of the disgraced singer, Susanna Cibber is Stephanie Foster Breinholt, offering a quiet strength and desperation as she struggles to rebuild her life.

Katie Foster portrays Kitty Clive, a conceited soprano who snubs Susanna and fervently battles against the staging of "The Messiah" in London - until she is offered a featured role. Foster is completely enjoyable in her arrogance; she becomes the actress one loves to hate.

Colleen Baum is perfect as Mary Pendarves, a woman who loves Handel's music and fights to see it gain the respect it deserves.

Also outstanding is Cameron Deaver as King George II. He is appropriately grave and regal and yet delivers some very funny lines.

Playwright Tim Slover provides moments of insight into the characters and their feelings as well as plenty of hearty laughs for the audience with his clever writing.

There are very few set pieces, with a table and a few chairs creating almost all scenes. This works reasonably well for the many scene changes, although at times it seems odd to have actors in character one moment and then abruptly moving furniture the next.

Costuming, however, is excellent, as is the show overall. Be aware that some material may be inappropriate for young children.

Directed by Bob Nelson, "Joyful Noise" offers an enjoyable evening and an education about one of history's great composers.