Over the past 18 years, the Catholic Church of St. Ann has presented “The Living Stations,” a portrayal of the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ painted through 14 separate vignettes.
For the first time on April 11, St. Ann’s theatrical production will be directed by Christine Holt, who has more than 35 years of experience producing and arranging musicals and plays.
Holt is replacing Pete and Sue Borden, who retired this fall after dedicating their time and talent into producing each of the preceding years’ performances.
Three years ago, Holt said she began asking Pete Borden if he needed assistance.
“There always seemed to be not enough bodies and too many things to do,” Holt said.
Last year, Holt, who has master’s degrees in music education and vocal performance/opera from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, took over directing some of the crowd scenes.
An image set in motion
While most churches display the 14 stations of the cross as still images on plaques or carvings, St. Ann’s treatment brings those pictures to life.
“There is a real body there,” Holt said. “It really brings it up close and personal.”
On April 11, an actor portraying Jesus will move through the church’s sanctuary symbolizing the path through Jerusalem to Golgotha.
Assistant Director Adele Myers has created all of the period costuming. Musical accompaniment will be provided by singer and pianist Graham Kuhn, Music Minister at St. Ann’s.
Holt said the hymns will be more like a solo performance than a full treatment by an entire orchestra or choir.
For an hour, the audience will experience the sacrifice made by Jesus, as well as the anguish felt by family and friends.
“It is the only opportunity to be with Jesus while he is on the Earth,” Holt said. “It really brings it home what He did for us.”
As in Lenten seasons past, St. Ann’s congregation will witness the crucifixion, Holt said, and what eventually led to the formation of the church.
The voiceless actors
Each year, the production is cast from the St. Ann Players composed of parishioners and friends.
The roles range from 30 named characters to many extras in various crowd scenes. There are three narrators, and one who only reads the lines for Jesus.
“Many parishioners have participated in various roles throughout the years, some starting as parents who brought their young children to be in the crowd scenes,” said Holt, who has been a member of St. Ann’s for 14 years.
As the child actors age, many take on more mature roles, such as servants for Pilate or Roman soldiers.
“It has truly become a family affair,” said Holt, whose own husband, Larry, and three sons have played a role in “The Living Stations.”
For six Sundays in a row, the St. Ann Players rehearse. This weekend is the production’s last technical rehearsal before the dress rehearsal on Thursday night.
The cast and crew only host the production one night a year.