UNION DALE– The Bible and countless resources shared throughout generations recount the story of Jesus Christ. For those who would like to see this ageless narrative enacted live on stage, Clarks Green Assembly of God (CGAssembly) invites the public to SONrise, its fifth annual musical re-telling of God’s gift to the world.
Staged in the parish sanctuary, located at 204 S. Abington Road in Clarks Green, the drama will unfold at 7:00pm on Friday April 12th and Saturday April 13th, and at 10:00am on Palm Sunday April 14th. Presented in two acts over two hours (with a 10-min. intermission), SONrise is wonderfully costumed and beautifully directed in its depiction of Christ, as told from His baptism to His glorious resurrection. There is no admission charge (free will donation available), and the production is open to all ages and denominations.
Writer, director, and production coordinator Linda Corey is a woman of devout faith. “When Pastor Dan Miller first approached me about doing a drama like this, I was so excited and really felt blessed,” she said. “He was familiar with my theatrical background as a high school drama coach and having worked briefly with the Acting Company in Forest City. I love music and love to sing, and I love my church, so coordinating an Easter drama was definitely something I wanted to do.
“Clarks Green does an annual live Christmas Nativity, but Pastor Dan wanted to offer an additional outreach to the community. We agreed that an Easter drama would help tie the two events together,” Corey added. And since 2015, this parish has continually filled its sanctuary with audiences that that watch and listen to Christ’s story unfold in its inspiring simplicity.
Each year, CGAssembly presents a new version of the Easter drama, one that is literally worked on from one year through to the next. “Of course, the story of Jesus Christ doesn’t change,” Corey emphasized. “But each year, the cast and I improve upon and enhance the production, because we all strive to make each year’s drama more informative, more interesting, and most timely in its telling at Easter. We’ve already discussed some changes and made some fresh notes to update next year’s drama. Our production is an ever-evolving process.”
Throughout the months prior to staging SONrise, Corey consults with her family, friends, and congregants to gather information and background for “a production that best helps illustrate various parts of Christ’s story moving forward from Christmas. By starting our production with Christ’s baptism, we’re portraying the beginning of His ministry. As the drama unfolds to other events and happenings, it’s done in both script and song that help draw the audience into His life.
“Everything flows beautifully in fast-moving little vignettes,” she continued, “and we’ve included scenes like the Wedding at Cana, the Woman at the Well, along with re-telling some of Christ’s healings, gifts, and miracles. These all help give the audience a visual sense of much of what transpired back then, leading up to the Last Supper and Jesus in Gethsemane, Herod’s court and Palm Sunday. We re-enact the events of Holy Week that culminate in Christ’s crucifixion and His rise at Easter.”
With determination, drive, and dedication to the effort, Corey – a petite powerhouse – said, “God puts thoughts into my mind as to how to proceed with His story, but we’re a TEAM of many that works together to make this drama develop,” she said. Through the script that Corey writes and continually edits from studying countless biographies and historical resources and re-reading various versions of the New Testament, she and her crew add music to the dialogue to accompany and further enliven the drama.
“Music really helps bring such life into the story,” she said. “Most of the music is canned, but this year we’re thrilled to have two live guitarists and a cellist. The music itself is like a veritable rainbow that blends traditional and contemporary songs, classical and Broadway tunes from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Godspell,’ along with some original writings that pull everything together. Music helps make Christ’s story all that more meaningful and so very beautiful too. And dance is also incorporated into SONrise, through professionally choreographed ballet, traditional, folk, and contemporary styles.”
While not putting out an official cast call, church members, family, and friends from “all over fill out our cast of almost 50,” said Corey. “They’re all willing, living multi-talented story tellers who enjoy being a part of something very special. This year, we have participants aged 11 months to 80 years coming from five counties and representing five denominations. SONrise is truly a story for everyone.
“Looking back,” Corey recalled, “I don’t usually have a problem casting a particular part. But the first year, I could only come up with ten disciples. It was frustrating, but I knew God would send them so we could properly tell the story. After one of our rehearsals that year, I went home to find two men at the door wanting my husband do to their taxes. God provided – these men joined the cast! Every year, the cast members miraculously show up, and as they say, ‘the show goes on.’”
In addition to the cast on stage, Corey also assembles countless volunteers who make costumes and do make-up, and design, create and paint the set. There are also various technicians and specialists who assist, donate, and generally oversee specialized lighting and the countless behind-the-scenes “little things” that ultimately bring the whole production together.
“And SONrise is viewed as a production,” Corey stressed. “Unlike a show that isn’t spiritual or a service that can be constricting, this event is viewed as a dramatic outreach that’s deeply moving and motivational. It’s a gift to the community given from our hearts.”
Ample parking is available in the CGAssembly lot; no reservations are required.