The River is an achingly beautiful story about all of us, told through the wild and winding journey of one man, as he stumbles and sputters to make his way home.
Gabriel Clarke is born into a long line of whitewater rafting guides; men who have fallen in love with and become experts in The River. But Gabriel’s own relationship to the rushing waters carving their way through steep canyons is thwarted. Before the Clarke legacy can be passed down to him, tragedy strikes. In a terrible accident, a five-year-old Gabriel watches as his father dies saving another rafter in the very waters that he loved. Gabriel, heartbroken and gripped with fear, let’s go of his family history along with his own destiny.
As Gabriel grows into a teenager in the middle of landlocked Kansas, he can’t ignore a constant pull to The River. But it is years of a numb and empty existence before Gabriel finds the courage to venture back to Colorado with some friends and into the waters that changed his life.
Gabriel must decide if he will accept The River’s invitation to adventure, freedom and the love of his life or whether he will stay stuck on the shore, watching his destiny rush past.
The River Experience is a powerful epic taking the audience deep into themes of love, fear, forgiveness, and redemption. Using the compelling metaphor of the story, those who experience it are ready to discuss the purpose of life, destiny and faith. The story of The River is a picture and allegory of God’s call of love to mankind. The mission of The River Experience is to utilize the power of story and the arts to move deep into culture with the Gospel. Rather than only invite them to church, we feel compelled to reach them where they are through public performing arts centers, and consequently feature film. After audiences have experienced the event, we will direct them to our online presence and mobile app where we will feature stories of faith and healing via video and short film - think I AM SECOND.
We will tell these stories of faith over fear, forgiveness over bitterness, and hope over despair. These will stories featuring prominent communicators like Dr. Jack Graham, Dr. Jarrett Stephens, Levi Lusko, Greg Laurie, etc. Imagine these stories could be contextualized using pastors and figures from the area that the event is happening. For example, in Dallas, TX it could, Dr. Graham, but in Southern California it could feature Greg Laurie. In a kind and loving way, we want to share our stories of belief in Jesus and connect them with local churches.
We feel called to invite the audience on a journey with us into a great story. From that place, we want to deepen our connection with them, share our faith story, and connect them with a local church.
How we got here...
The River is self-published by Michael Neale and sells thousands of copies.
The River Experience (a theatrical event) debuts in beta version in West Palm Beach, Florida to standing ovations and thousands of books and the all-original musical soundtracks sold.
Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins Publishing acquires The River for an international release.
The River releases and becomes a National Best-Seller within the week and is now published in 9 languages and growing.
The River Experience debuts as a ticketed event to complete sellout crowd of 2500 people.
MARCH 2013 – 2014
The River Experience plays for corporate private events in West Palm, Atlanta, Portland, and the Orlando area to multiple standing ovations.
The sequel, Into The Canyon: a River Novel, released to critical acclaim with Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins.
AUGUST 2014 – PRESENT
Lead Read Live, a 501-c3 non- profit foundation, was founded by Michael and Leah Neale, to raise the levels of literacy in schools. Featuring a ground-breaking, arts-empowered, differentiated curriculum based on THE RIVER, the story and has been read and experienced by nearly 20,000 children in Palm Beach County schools. The foundation is expanding to North Carolina, Colorado, and Texas.
The first iteration of The River Experience was a beautiful mash-up of a one-man musical, staged reading, and dynamic slide show. The response was incredible. Standing ovations at every performance.
This 2.0 iteration seeks to be more aligned with a Broadway or Las Vegas show. It will feature a full cast, new arrangements of songs to include a chorus of extras, dynamic staging, environmental projection, real water, and incredible lighting.
Below you will find a series of videos that cast vision for how a handful of scenes would play out in the 2.0 version.