Easter spectacle in fourth season

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Apr. 15, 2011
Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem in the 'The Passion of the King' at Crossroads Community Cathedral. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem in the 'The Passion of the King' at Crossroads Community Cathedral. Photos by Frances Taylor.

“It's not a typical church production, or a typical passion story,” said Brent Grosvenor, writer and director of “The Passion of the King,” which began its fourth Easter season run at Crossroads Community Cathedral April 15.

Over the years, the word has spread and its audience has grown. About 5,000 tickets are sold each year, with people coming from not just Connecticut, but as far as Massachusetts, Long Island and New Jersey to see the show. “We had a couple drive down from New Brunswick[Canada] last year,” Grosvenor said. “The word is getting out.”

A passion play is a dramatic presentation of the trial of Jesus and his crucifixion, a tradition of the Easter season. “The Passion of the King” has original music and lyrics, and is set on the spacious stage of the cathedral sanctuary. The play has more than 100 characters. All the actors – both adults and children - are volunteers, and many are Crossroads members.

“My intention as I wrote it was to make people understand that Jesus went against the culture of his day, in the way women and children were treated. He brought a new understanding of how equal we all are in the eyes of God,” Grosvenor said. “It was the pious, who thought they were doing everything right, that had the most problem with Jesus.”

Grosvenor, an actor and playwright who has written other Christian-themed stage productions, was approached by Crossroads Pastor Terry Wiles to make the church his theatrical home base.

The “Passion of the King” cast includes Jonathan Jacques as Jesus, Carlos Acevedo as Simon Peter, James Guerin as Thomas, Jennifer Ramos as Mary Magdelene, Heather Starkey as Mary Mother of Jesus, Corey Leamy as Martha, Bob LeBlanc as Judas Iscariot and Gerry Williams as King David. Grosvenor plays the role of John.

Most of the lead actors have been with the production since the beginning. “Jonathan Jacques is fantastic as Jesus – he is one of the best you will see anywhere,” Grosvenor said.

Jacques, 24, a computer science major at Central Connecticut State University, had never been in play before taking the role of Jesus. “They were looking for someone and they asked me to audition,” Jacques said, recalling that he almost missed the audition because of a family birthday party.

Jacques, who is also studying theology and hopes to enter youth ministry, said playing the role of Jesus “has been an interesting journey... it’s a big honor. There is responsibility to study who Jesus was and what his times were like.”

“I’ve been blessed to be able to do the role this amount of time,” Jacques said. “It sold out every year, and people come and bring other people with them. It never gets old.”

“The Passion of the King” is being performed on the evenings of April 15, 17, 20, 21 and 22 at Crossroads Community Cathedral, 1492 Silver Lane, East Hartford. For more ticket availability and more information, visit the website www.crossroadscommunitycathedral.com.

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