THE STORY: A religious community is changed when a non-believer has an ecstatic experience. The 1830's Shaker society of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, is set in ordered ways. Their once dramatic form of worship has by now developed into routine. The arrival of Fanny upsets the harmony; the Sisters suspect her to be a "winter Shaker," one who suddenly converts when life gets too hard on the farm. Fanny sees angels in the meadow, and soon all the young women are receiving spiritual "gifts" of songs, drawings, ideas and giggles, completely upsetting the community. The leaders question Fanny's intentions and honesty: Is this a resurgence of the original Shaker celebration or something manufactured by Fanny so that she can remain with the Shakers? Eldress Hannah is jealous that she, the most devout of Shakers, has not been privileged to see the visions. But only the ones who question need visual proof. Whether they were heavenly or earthly, the angels were there. "Hands to Work, Hearts to God" is their motto, and in each scene the Sisters are always at tasks. The set is as simple as the Shakers: benches, baskets and laundry. Hymns sung a cappella punctuate the scenes of the play, which ends with a joyful explosion of Shaker singing and ecstatic dance.
"A moving portrayal of upheaval caused when the utopian existence of an 1830's Shaker community in Kentucky is threatened by the arrival of 'newcomers' claiming to see angels…powerful and insightful…a thought-provoking piece, the message being that often we need not look as far as heaven to see angels here on earth…" —Herald. "Hutton, who is best known for her charming Last Train to Nibroc, once again looks into a slice of Americana and a time when things seemingly were simpler while showing that even a 'utopian' existence such as the Shakers' was not without complications…Hutton asks some universal questions about the nature of community and belief that are timeless and also prove to be good fodder for storytelling on stage…AS IT IS IN HEAVEN contains a story that deserves to be told." —American Theatre Web. "What Hutton does that is so fascinating is to show us people who appear to be the very picture of goodness and brings out their eccentricities and frailties. [She] is excellent at drawing comedy from the situation…to its satisfying and inspiring conclusion." —TheaterMania.com.