PLAY REVIEW: ‘Lifesong’ a unique way to tell the Easter story

Ananias (Pastor Jerry Carlson), the Guard (Nick Dukes) and Paul (Tony Robbins) listen as Lazarus (Don Williams) shares how Jesus brought him back from the dead in Sheridan Assembly of God Church’s presentation of “Lifesong.” — Daily News/Lori Hansen

He was once feared by the Christians, but then became one.

The Sheridan Assembly of God Church  presents “Lifesong,” an annual Easter Passion play, centering on the life of Saul, and his conversion to Christianity, and with the creative use of flashback scenes, takes the audience to experience the true meaning of Easter.

“It is a unique way to tell the Easter story,” said Val Robbins, who wrote and directs the production. “It shows us some of the sacrifices the early Christians had to go through in their faith.”

Opening with “The Risen Lamb” a vocal number by Robbins and her daughter Erika, the story continues to tell how many of Jesus’ followers struggled after his death.

“Jesus was put to death but rose from the dead, and it made his followers even stronger. But still they asked, “What are we to do now?” explains narrator Robbins.

Pastor Jerry Carlson, who plays the role of Steven, explains to others, “Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to us unless the Father wants it to. It is all in the Father’s hands.”

Stephen’s preaching angers the Sanhedrins, and, under Saul’s leadership, and Stephen is stoned to death.

As the numbness begins to wear off, the followers work on forgiveness, and a crack in Saul’s heart begins to grow.

Touching vocal numbers are performed by Carlson, now in the role of Ananias, who sings the title song “Lifesong” and German exchange student Leo Allonge and LaShae Wright perform a beautiful rendition of “Here.”

Allonge also tackles the role of Jesus, a daunting task which he masters very well.

Stephen’s death has also shook up Saul, played strongly by Tony Robbins who opts to go to Damascus to clear his head.

“Little did he know this course was a road to change,” Robbins says.

With years of performances, the group has acquired a beautiful costumes and props, and have mastered quick scene changes.

It is on the way to Damascus where Saul has a life-changing moment, and after a visit from Ananias, converts to the Christianity he once despised.Quality solos are performed by Lauren Lora, who sings “Be Born in Me” and Erika Robbins with the vocal “Alive.”

Different characters, including The Leper, played by exchange student Marie Sonnichsen of Norway, share with Saul now named Paul, how Jesus changed their lives, all leading up to the crucifixion and most importantly, the resurrection of Jesus.

“Lifesong” explains why Christians celebrate Easter, and is an enjoyable, touching presentation for all ages.

If you go …

What: “Lifesong” annual Easter Passion play

Where: Sheridan Assembly of God Church, 4010 S. Sheridan Road

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Tickets: Free

Cast: Narrator, Val Robbins; Anna’s daughters, Ashlyn Ebels and Jillian MacDonald; Saul/Paul, Tony Robbins; Little Girl, Ashlyn Ebels; Guards, Nick Dukes, Russell Wright and Bill Wright; Stephen, Pastor Jerry Carlson; Jesus, Leo Allonge; Sanhedrin, Bob MacDonald, Riste Trumble and Don Williams; Angels, Ashlyn Ebels, Sue Trumble and Karen Williams; Ananias, Pastor Jerry Carlson; Martha, Vicki DeToma;Cancer, Ann Elliott; Anna, Sharon Carlson; Woman with issue of blood, Vicki DeToma; blind man, Russell Wright; Leper, Marie Sonnichsen; mother with daughter raised from the dead, Sue Trumble and Ashlyn Ebels; lame man, Riste Trumble; deaf girl, LaShae Wright; Lazarus, Don Williams; Jesus’ mother, Erika Robbins; John Bob MacDonald and Joanna, Marie Sonnichsen.

Crew: Krista Wright, lights; Caleb Robbins, sound; Tracy Ebels, props; Erika Robbins and Betty Wilcox, make-up; Erika Robbins, costumes; Louise Briggs, sewing and stagehand.

Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.

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