Date: April 16, 2012
The 9th annual production of the Easter Passion Play at Andrews University attracted between 7,500–8,500 attendees. Using the talents of more than 900 volunteers from both the campus and community, the production was designed to give guests the sense of being a witness in the drama of the Easter story.
Visitors embarked upon an indoor-outdoor walking experience through the last week of Jesus’ life before His crucifixion. For many, it was an unforgettable experience.
“I really enjoyed volunteering as an animal handler,” says Shelley McLarty, a senior biology major who participated in the marketplace scene. “I got to meet lots of people and I especially enjoyed watching people's faces as they experienced what an open market could be like. That interactive aspect is my favorite part of the play.”
People traveled from as far away as New York and other surrounding states to see the production. “Many volunteers had invited guests who were from a different faith afflation or those who didn’t claim any faith at all,” says Jose Bourget, associate chaplain at Andrews University. “Our volunteers believe, as we do, that this is primarily a gospel sharing event. Something that people curious about the gospel want to understand.”
To keep the play fresh and powerful, a few changes were made in this year's production. A prayer tent was added and the resurrection scene gained 30 angel choreographers who represented a small selection of the heavenly hosts who waited to praise and greet the risen Savior. Students raised funds and sewed their own costumes on short notice for the scene.
Most significant, however, was the decision to further tap into the resources of Andrews’ student body. “Andrews University is full of many people with different gifts. As a University event we wanted to increase opportunities for these gospel gifts to be shared in relevant ways,” says Bourget.
The Andrews Gymnics were among those newly involved, as four aerial silk choreographers performed with the angels during the resurrection scene. Additionally, music majors and members of the Andrews University Symphony Orchestra recorded the music for the scene. Entitled “Revelation Song,” it was sung by Emily Ferguson and arranged and conducted by Joshua Goines, both students at Andrews University.
Many people were touched by the play. Claire, a young girl struggling with a life-threatening condition, attended the production with her grandmother again this year. Last year she came and expressed a desire to meet Jesus, but unfortunately it could only be arranged for her to meet Gabriel. This year Claire was able to meet both Jesus and Gabriel along with the rest of the angels. With the help of one of the angels, Claire was even able to participate in the angels' choreography, which was a beautiful moment for all who witnessed it.
“I believe there is tremendous need for people to know our risen Savior walked among us. They should wonder, what did His world smell like, look like, sound like?” says Bourget. “They should get a picture of His joys and struggles, friends and foes, and ultimately the Majesty of Emmanuel that will soon return.”
Next year’s Easter Passion Play is scheduled for Saturday, March 30, 2013. Learn more at http://passionplay.andrews.edu.
-Written by Ashley Meyer, student writer, Office of Integrated Marketing & Communication