Rapid City, SD October 31, 1987
by Vicky Wicks
Rapid City Journal November 1 1987
Sight, sound give message
David Shelton and Rich Mullins are living proof that religion doesn't have to be stuffy.
For the past two days, Shelton's mime and Mullins' music have been carrying that message to the 200 or so participants of the Fall Youth Fling sponsored by First Christian Church of Rapid City.
Saturday night, the message was also carried to the general public, when the two performed in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center theater.
Shelton, a former New York City street mime, acted out six skits that combined the exaggerated motions of mime with lessons in living.
In one skit entitled "Boxes," he used the familiar pantomime of a man who was walking along and then suddenly found himself surrounded by walls. In Shelton's version, the man found a way out of the first three boxes, but in the fourth box he found no opening, so he resorted to prayer.
Particularly effective was Shelton's skit, "Removing the Mask," also the theme of the three-day gathering. In this pantomime, Shelton illustrated self-defeat by donning a mask to meet the needs of the moment. Shelton performed in spite of not being able to speak because of a bronchial infection. But other than having his wife, Debra, introduce his pantomimes for him, his act was not affected by his silence.
Mullins was as loud as Shelton was quiet. After the peaceful, silent mime, Mullins' chatter and loud music was almost jarring.
Mullins, who is from Nashville, has been known more for his songwriting than his musical performances, according to Brian Chitwood, youth minister at First Christian Church. Mullins has written songs performed by Amy Grant, and his three-piece band also opened for her during her 1986 tour, Chitwood said.
But Mullins is a versatile instrumentalist, playing guitar, dulcimer, hammer dulcimer, and Review keyboards. He experimented by combining unexpected sounds; sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not.
One song, written in response to his reading the book of Ruth, combined a dulcimer, a guitar, and a hand-held drum that produced a sound like thunder. The result was a raucous celebration, slightly mysterious and oriental and a joy to hear.
In another song, the hammer dulcimer with its very twangy, oriental sound backed up the strong, mellow voice of Steve Cudworth singing a folk song about peace. The result was a war between East and West. The mismatch was very distracting.
After surprising the audience with a few musical experiments, the band settled into rock n' roll that delighted the young people in the audience and seemed to annoy some older listeners.
Mullins interacted well with his audience, and his off-the-wall sense of humor was fun.
Shelton and Mullins will perform again at a worship service open to the public. It will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday at the civic center theater.