If you go …
What: “My Chains Are Gone” Easter play
When: 7 p.m. tonight and Friday and 11 a.m. Sunday
Where: Trinity Evangelical Free Church, 415 N. Mill Street in Stanton
Cast: Jesus, James Briggs; Paul, Ken Crouse; Silas, Caleb Bennitt; Pilate, Loren Krautz; Roman guard, Mark Witzel; Chief Priest, Frank Monroe; Mary, Mindi Crouse, and Martha, Laura Thompson.
Though we may not wear the shackles of a convict, many of us are chained in other areas that hold us back.
Stanton’s Trinity Evangelical Free Church presents an Easter passion play “My Chains Are Gone” showing how we can be released from those chains that tether us down.
Based on the song by Chris Tomlin, “My Chains Are Gone,” the church’s choir tells the story and the actors portray the scenes.
“We do the same story, the Easter story, each year, but present it from a different angle,” said Mark Edwards, who directs the 70-member choir. “There is really very little dialogue for the actors, which is different, and we have also incorporated some other new aspects this year.”
More than 100 members are involved in the multi-generational production that includes young babies to octogenarians. Scenes move quickly and the mix of traditional hymns along with newer contemporary Christian songs will be pleasing to all ages.
“We want to show that we all have chains,” Edwards said. “It doesn’t mean just nonbelievers, but Christians as well are chained by sins and regrets that they carry. But they don’t have to, once they understand that Jesus has redeemed us all.”
The detailed set allows the action of the actors to take place in four different locations, and church aisle ways are also used for entrances and exits, making quick changes while the choir continues their cantata.
“There are parts of the Easter story that are tricky to portray,” Director Ken Crouse said. “By using the scrim (a netted curtain), and lighting, we can do the beating and crucifixion without it being cheesy but still dramatic.”
The production begins with a resounding solo “I Am Free” sung by Del Pike and backed up by the choir.
“He has freed us from the chains that bind us,” Pike said. “We no longer have chains that hold us. This is why we can say ‘Hallelujah! Our deliverer has come!’”
As the Newsboys’ song says, “I am free to run, I am free to dance,” talented dancers Alyssa Meilleur, Abby Clark, Faith Thompson, Sadie Crouse and Alivia Kimball perform ballet steps with colorful skirts and ribbons, adding to the festive mood.
Paul and Silas, played by Ken Crouse and Caleb Bennitt, demonstrate how their cell chains are broken while Michele Monroe does a strong rendition of “My Deliverer.”
The crowds greet Jesus with palms as he makes a triumphal entry into Jerusalem while soloist Steve Tanner joyfully sings “Blessed is He” followed by a duet with Jesse and Ben Crouse singing “Give Us This Day.”
Jesus, portrayed by James Briggs, agonizes in the garden prior to the upcoming crucifixion, while the priest (Frank Monroe) portrays the sacrifice of a lamb in the temple, showing the links connecting the two sacrificial events.
Michelle Jorgensen’s inspiring solo “Isaiah 53” complements the scene and Helen Smith, with choir accompaniment, sings the title song “My Chains Are Gone” beautifully.
Pastor Kurt Hoffman joyfully sings Phillips Craig and Dean’s “This Is How It Feels to Be Free.”
“My Chains Are Gone” is a fast-paced, inspiring production. Perfect for an Easter celebration.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville area resident.