Story: The final days of Jesus’ life on Earth, covering the eight-day period now known as Holy Week that runs from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday, is dramatized. Included are scenes from the Last Supper, Jesus’ trial for heresy before the Roman ruler Pilate, his crucifixion and death and his resurrection and ascension into heaven.
Highlights: Spotlight Theatre artistic director Pamela Reckamp has adapted the familiar story of Jesus’ final days on Earth into a 65-minute drama that utilizes projections of verses from both the New Testament and Old Testament of the Bible to underscore its historical background. Her sizable cast moves throughout the performance space at Chaminade’s Viragh Center to bring the action up close and personal with the audience.
Other Info: Even with stylized movement and Reckamp’s shrewd use of sacred music to enliven the one-act play, much of it is stilted and static, albeit well-intentioned. Director Reckamp has assembled an impressive cast who bring professionalism and dedication to their roles, but within such a short performing time it’s tough to generate much momentum.
Blane Pressler does a fine job as Jesus, maintaining an even keel while his life crumbles around him. Michele Burdette Elmore as Mary captures the essence of a woman seeing her son unjustly accused and killed, and Bess Moynihan as Mary Magdalen joins her in following Jesus to his death on the cross and then seeing his empty tomb two days later.
Others in the cast include Kimberly Weller as Peter and a Roman soldier, Lori Barrett-Pagano as John, Eugene Neal as Joseph of Arimathea, Gregory Cuellar as the high priest obsessed with vilifying Jesus, Zachary Stefaniak as a somewhat laid-back Pilate, Rachel Fenton as the betraying apostle Judas, Doug Landholt, Becky Fortner, Jeanitta Perkins, Adrienne Gleeson and Reckamp.
Music director Greg Schweizer provides fine accompaniment at the piano, providing soft background chords as the performers sing a number of sacred tunes that give the production a further tone of reverence. John Taylor’s lighting keeps the focus on scenes at various points on the stage, while Jane Sullivan and Becky Fortner lend their talents to the costuming.
Passion is quick and direct, and Reckamp adds some nice touches with the music and video projections of several verses from books in the Old Testament that allude directly to the death and resurrection of the Messiah. In the end, however, the production lacks an electrical charge to generate much passion in its audience.
Group: Spotlight Theatre
Venue: Skip Viragh Center for the Arts, Chaminade College Preparatory School, 425 South Lindbergh
Dates: March 21, 22, 23
Tickets: $20-$25; contact 412-6848 or email@example.com
Rating: A 3.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.