‘The Passion Play’ brings the story of Easter to life

‘The Passion Play’ brings the story of Easter to life

“The Passion Play,” which focuses on the final chapter of Christ’s ministry on earth, will be presented at Harvest Ridge in Millersburg April 19-20. The event is free to the public.


Easter is a time for people of faith to embrace the resurrection of Christ that is told in “The Passion Play,” and as was the case two years ago, a number of area churches have united to recreate the telling of the Easter story in all of its drama.

All of the pain, agony and finally joyous celebration of the greatest story ever told is coming to Millersburg over Easter weekend, and the public is invited to share in this stirring portrayal.

“The Passion Play,” the story of Jesus Christ’s life from the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane, his trial, crucifixion and resurrection, will come to life on stage at Harvest Ridge at the Holmes County Fairgrounds in the livestock barn on Friday and Saturday, April 19-20. It is a free event with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and the show beginning at 7 p.m. The play is right around 75 minutes long.

The theatrical production of “The Passion Play” will be presented to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, and director Lisa Strouse is excited about presenting the drama. She said while there are some similarities, they have tried to change some of the scenes and the way it is presented to bring a fresh perspective to the show.

“It’s the same story but told in a different way,” Strouse said. “We want to encourage people to return who came the last time. We have more than 40 people from the area involved, and the Holmes County Center for the Arts has a choir that will be joining us this year. In addition we changed the way we are presenting it. This year we are telling the story from different perspectives, rather than relying so much on a narrator.”

Those viewpoints come from the centurion at the cross, Peter and others.

“It’s laid out completely different,” Strouse said. “The story is the same, but we tell the resurrection in a new way. We will once again offer communion at the last supper for those in attendance.”

Strouse said the feedback they received from the inaugural effort was overwhelmingly positive. She said whether people are familiar with the story or not, it is an emotional, touching and inspiring story.

The role of Jesus will once again be played by former West Holmes graduate Luke Martin, who will get a chance to interact with his disciples more this time around.

With a number of area churches involved, Strouse said it is a wonderful collaboration that sets the table for Easter morning.

While a grant through the Holmes County Ministerial Association helped pay for the production two years ago, this year a local family stepped up and anonymously donated toward covering the expenses. Millersburg Christian Church will cover the remaining expenses.

“The donor wanted to give the money because they felt it was a worthwhile thing,” Strouse said. “That is encouraging when you know you’re reaching people and they want to be a part of something special.”

She said practices have been going very well, and while there is always plenty of laughter and horsing around, as the drama draws nearer, the cast takes it more and more serious as they perfect their respective roles.

Seating for the production is bleacher seating, and there will be handicap-accessible seating available. “The Passion Play” is free to the public, although people may donate if they feel led to do so. All donations will go back into the fund for the next production, but that is secondary to the message portrayed.

Strouse said the most important thing is that the message of hope and joy of “The Passion Play” would come to light during the Easter season.

“After each night I encourage our performers to go out and mingle and talk to people,” Strouse said. “I think that conversation adds to the experience. I think one of the neatest things is seeing people of all these different faiths coming together to celebrate the greatest story ever told. That story never changes.”

While it is free, Strouse said it is recommended people call so she can get a sense of how many people are coming on each night. With some simple snacks of granola, honey, grapes and dates, she said people calling in helps them prepare for the show.

Last year’s show saw more than 500 people attend. This year she said the hope is that they soar well beyond that number.

“I don’t doubt what God can do,” Strouse said. “We implemented more bleachers, so there is more seating this time around, and we can always bring in more chairs.”

Strouse said if people know they are attending on a certain day, they are encouraged to text “tickets” to 330-473-3239 to request tickets and let her know how many will be in attendance, and she will respond. However, walk-ins are most welcome, and all are invited to come and experience what those final moments of Jesus’ life here on earth in physical form were like.

Holmes County Fairgrounds is located at 8880 OH-39 in Millersburg.

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