Union Assembly play tells the story of Jesus
By Michael Eikenberry
For The Newnan Times-Herald
“Jesus of Nazareth: The Life, Death and Resurrection.”
The name of the play — presented by South Newnan Church of God of the Union Assembly, describes its purpose. The eight-scene dramatization of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus was presented three nights — April 6-8.
The center platform of the sanctuary was completely changed to give the effect of a wall outside Nazareth. This also included the tomb where Jesus would be buried after he was crucified, later to rise from the grave above the crowd of people. The left side of the platform was used for the miracle of the little girl being healed by Jesus and the woman with the issue of blood. After the little girl and the woman with the issue of blood was healed a song, “He’s in the House,” by Marty Crider gave time for the stagehands to change the scene to give the effect of Lazarus’ tomb and Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
That same setting later would be used as Jesus saved the life of the woman caught in the act of adultery — and the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus went into the garden to pray before his arrest and trial.
As the scene of the woman caught in adultery came to a close the Hughes family’s rendition of “Cast the First Stone” gave time for stagehands to clear the stage for the Lord’s supper scene. Jesus and his disciples were seated all across the stage and the disciples partook of the wine and bread.
The scene closed with Michael Card’s song, “Why.”
The Garden of Gethsemane scene depicted Jesus’ disciples sleeping on the front portion of the platform while Jesus went away by himself to pray. As Toby Hughes played the part of Jesus, his cries and prayers to his father seemed so real that attendees could almost feel the emotion that Jesus had before his arrest in the garden.
As the Roman soldiers — along with Judas — entered the garden, Judas placed a kiss on Jesus’ cheek and had Jesus arrested. One of Jesus’s disciples grabbed a sword from one of the soldiers and pretended to cut off the soldiers ear. The makeup was so real that from the audience it actually looked like the ear was cut off and the blood actually looked like it was running down the back of the soldier’s neck.
As the soldiers were taking Jesus up the aisle, the lights dimmed on the front stage so it could be prepared for the trial and scourging of Jesus. As the scourging was being set up, Deanna Reynolds’ “Revelation Song” filled the air.
As the scene changed to the trial of Jesus the left portion of the platform was used to simulate Pilate’s judgement hall. Roman Soldiers brought Jesus to the front center of the platform and tied Jesus to a whipping post. The soldiers began to whip Jesus and the blood on Jesus’s garment appeared real with the help of a red spot light in the balcony along with a small dimming of the stage white lights.
The crucifixion scene was being put in place with Drew and Anita Summers’ “New Again” as a backdrop. During this time the two malefactors were brought out and placed on their crosses. The costuming was very good as their garments appeared bloody.
As the malefactors were finished being tied to their crosses the Roman soldiers began probing Jesus with their spears as they proceeded down the isle to the front of the stage. As Jesus approached, a large cross was brought out and laid down on the floor.
Jesus was pushed down onto the cross, and a soldier appeared to the audience to be hammering in the spikes into Jesus’s hands and feet. Then they tied his hands to the cross. After that was done, Jesus was lifted into place between the two other thieves. The body make up was exceptional as Jesus looked so beaten and worn.
During this scene Jesus said his famous words: “Father, forgive them for they no not what they do” and “Into thy hands I commit my spirit.” Then Jesus — played by Toby Hughes raised his head — and said, “It is finished” and died.
At this point in the program Jesus was taken off the cross and the spikes in the hands of Jesus were pulled out of Jesus’s hand and the cross — causing Jesus to fall onto the back of a soldier. As the lights were dimming, the soldier carried Jesus’ body up the steps to the tomb and put him in the tomb and sealed it.
The Roman soldiers then stood guard over the tomb in darkness. The lights come up on the front stage to Deanna Reynolds’ song, “Arise My Love.” She was joined by New Song — dressed in white to do the interpretative sign language to the final song “He’s Alive.”
As the interpretative sign language was being done on the front stage, an angel stood over the tomb. The stone from the tomb rolled away and Jesus came out of the tomb triumphantly which brought a final awesome feeling.
The congregation gave the cast, crew, musicians, soloists, drama team, lighting experts,stage builders,makeup artists and costume designers a standing ovation. The wardrobe and costume designer was Paula Crider, and the director of the production was Marty Crider.