Passionate performance at Andrews University enters sixth year

By JESSICA SIEFF / Niles Daily Star

The emergence of spring always brings with it the Easter holiday. Colorful plastic eggs and stringy fake grass line shelves of supermarkets just waiting to be loaded into pastel colored Easter baskets or hidden in lawns and bushes to be found by little, enthusiastic hands.  But the holiday's significance for many Christians goes beyond Easter egg hunts and chocolate bunny rabbits.  It marks a point in the story of Jesus Christ that hundreds will bring to life Saturday, April 11 at Andrews University in Berrien Springs during the sixth annual Easter Passion Play. 

The performance is an "interactive indoor/outdoor walk-through play depicting the Passion of Christ."  "Many of us know the resurrection story," said Richard Parke, the play's director. "But what we offer at Andrews University is in a tangible way, to experience a journey through what it might have been like then."  Parke said the event commands the help of 500-600 volunteers on average who help in all areas including the cast, artists and sound and lighting technicians. Preparations for the event begin in the fall and the play, which runs rotating performances every half an hour including Spanish versions, is a "free gift to the community," Parke said.

Everything from the "sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the ancient Middle East during the time of Christ" are brought to life for the Easter Passion Play.  "One of our favorite parts of the Easter Passion Play is the Marketplace, complete with live animals," Parke said.  The marketplace includes live animals, shops and food samples. It concludes with an indoor resurrection scene and the Hospitality Center is open for visitors following their walk through with hot or cold drinks, the opportunity for prayer with volunteers and a Kid's Corner.

Performances take place in 30-minute increments. The first rotation begins at 9 a.m. and the last at 6 p.m., with Spanish showings at 3 and 5:30 p.m.

The event is free, but reservations are required.

Andrews University's Easter Passion Play is also handicap accessible and strollers are recommended. To place an online reservation or to learn more about the event, visit or call (269) 471-8360.