PLAY REVIEW: Trinity Evangelical Free Church presents annual Easter drama
Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Stanton is presenting the story of Easter in its production of “Through the Eyes of a Shepherd.”
The story, however, backtracks from the death of Christ on the cross to his birth in a manger and is told through the eyes of Jonathan, who is an observer at both scenes.
“You can’t end with Easter without beginning at Christmas any more than you can begin with Christmas and not end at the Resurrection,” said Mark Edwards, pastor of administration and co-director.
The original script was planned out as a Christmas program, with congregant Ken Crouse rewriting 90 percent of it to reflect the transition between the two most important Christian holy days, Edwards said.
“It is more of a musical than some of our other productions,” Edwards said.
One of the differences from past years is the 70-member choir is in costume and act as villagers, a dramatic touch for the vocalists. Add in other actors, a tech crew, costumers and others, and nearly 30 percent of the congregation is involved in the 13th annual Easter drama.
The production opens with the cherubic voices of two angels, played by Michele Monroe and Helen Smith, telling how the Jewish people have waited for their Messiah.
“For 100 years God had been silent, but now the time has come for God to speak again,” the angels say of the brief history.
The choir, with members from babes in arms to senior citizens, enters from all areas of the sanctuary, singing the powerful “Come” as they take their places among the busy marketplace during Passover.
The audience is then introduced to Jonathan, a shepherd boy who is finally old enough to join his father in the Passover preparations.
Jonathan’s father, Samuel, played confidently by Kurt Hoffman, is among the crowd when Samuel meets an old friend Ephraim, portrayed strongly by Steve Tanner. The two talk of the upcoming festivities when Ephriam says, “Why do we keep up these traditions? The Messiah will never come?”
Ephriam voices how many feel, waiting for decades for their Savior to come.
Samuel and Jonathan join the rest of the family for the traditional Seder meal before going to tend their flock of sheep on the hillside.
Scene changes are quick as the choir members/villagers on stage help to remove props and change scenery.
Johnathan, portrayed brightly by Keith Kasper, is in the fields with his father when angels appear to announce the birth of Jesus, their Savior. The two, with other shepherds, hurry to see Mary (Anna Cook), Joseph (Arthur Cook) and Baby Jesus, played by the adorable Violet Cook.
They witness the trio of Magi, portrayed by John Chenoweth, Skip Leonard and Mark Smith, present gifts while the choir does a voluminous rendition of “Behold Our King.”
The angels once again reprise their chorus of “Come,” with soprano voices hitting those highest notes beautifully.
Jump ahead 30 years, and Jonathan is now a grown man, living in a world that has not changed much at all.
Jonathan, now played by Al Kasper, meets an acquaintance Andrew, portrayed with strength by Del Pike.
“Have you heard the rumors about that guy Jesus?” Andrew asks.
A violin solo by Jody Collins sets the tone of the garden scene, where Jesus, played convincingly by James Briggs, mournfully wrestles with imminent events.
“Not my will, Lord, but your will be done,” Jesus acceptingly takes the trials he will face.
A stunning crucifixion scene, with outstanding lighting, and choir accompaniment of “He Chose the Cross” has witnesses sobbing, many of them not acting.
Jonathan and Samuel, who were bystanders, are puzzled, confused and express these emotions in a duet “My Messiah.”
“Why would God let him die? None of this makes sense?” Jonathan ponders.
And then they find the empty tomb, and the angels declare Jesus is not dead. He has risen!
If you go …
What: “Through the Eyes of a Shepherd”
Where: Trinity Evangelical Free Church, 400 W. Lincoln St., Stanton
When: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m. Easter Sunday
Tickets: No tickets are required for the free one-hour presentation.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.