Thursday, October 08, 2015 • 06:41

St. Stephen Church presents the Passion Play

April 16, 2014
A moving production of the Passion Play will be presented by St. Stephen Church on Good Friday, April 18, in the Parish Hall at 31020 Cole Grade Road, Valley Center.

In its second year production, the spiritual musical drama depicts the ministry, life, trials, and crucifixion of Jesus.

"It is so moving and theatrical, but it's done beautifully," said Theresa Harrison, director of the play.

The spotlighting and effects will be carefully executed, paying particular attention to the scourging scenes and how the nailing on the cross is portrayed.

The 65 people comprising the cast and crew, all members of the church, said they are excited to be performing this realistic production. The sets representing the city of Jerusalem and the Apostles scene were created by a professional artist and his assistants, who are also all church members.

The costumes made by a seamstress church member are authentic, replicating the clothing worn during that time in history and even using the same materials worn during that era. The soldier costumes, including the uniforms, helmets, and shoes, were borrowed from the Methodist Church in Escondido known for its Bethlehem Walk. Celebrating its 25th year production, the Bethlehem Walk depicts the little town of Bethlehem around Christmas. Those attending the program actually walk through the sets representing the town. Scenes are re-enacted of various town trades such as a blacksmith, baker, and the soldiers taking a census before leading to the stable where the birth of Jesus transpired.

Originally, the Passion Play was presented at St. Stephen on a smaller scale 14 years ago by Director Penny Phillips. After she moved from the area, the costumes were placed in a drawer and forgotten.Out of the blue, Harrison, her husband, and a friend were discussing the Passion Play and thought they should bring it back. Some of the scripts were located, but most everything burned in the church basement fire. Props, scenery, and costumes had to be made from scratch.

Harrison's husband Rick is the musical director and Dave Wickham is the musical coordinator. Throughout the play, there are touching solos such as "He's Still My Little Child," sung by Mother Mary holding Jesus. Judas' solo is "What's Going On Inside You." There is a solo for Peter's denial as well as Mary Magdalene's solo in "I Still Believe."

Last year, Harrison said many people who saw the play commented on how much they enjoyed the life-like performance.

"It brought tears to their eyes," said Harrison. "It was so realistic. They said they would definitely see it again and bring family and friends."

Since January, the cast has been rehearsing every Sunday. Palm Sunday was the final dress rehearsal where spotlights and microphones were used.

A two-year break will be taken, so the Passion Play will not be presented the next two years. Instead, another type of spiritual setting other than the play will be featured. The church encourages everyone not to miss the opportunity to experience the event.

"Last year we had one show. The parking lot was full. A lot of people were turned away," said Harrison.

People wanted to stand to watch the play, but the entire Parish Hall is used including the stage and main and side aisles.

This year to ensure adequate seating for all, there will be two performances at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The Passion Service is held at 3 p.m. The play is open to the community. Admission is free. During the evening production, as a love offering, donations to offset the cost of producing the play will be welcome.

St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church is a Parish of the Diocese of San Diego and is spiritual home to over 1,400 families. For more information or to register as a new parishioner, please contact the Parish Office at (760) 749-3324.

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