LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — First Baptist Church in London will be performing its 14th semi-annual “Passion Play” April 13 to 17.
The “Passion Play” depicts the last week of Jesus’ life on Earth, including the crucifixion and the resurrection.
The play stands as a combined effort from more than 150 people from the London community, including a choir made up of more than 50 members and more than 30 orchestra members.
The “Passion Play” held its first dress rehearsal on Thursday night. First Baptist’s sanctuary was a beehive of activity, anticipation and excitement. For cast member Gary Hudson, who plays one of the Pharisees, the night provided the closest comparison to opening day, which was Sunday.
“Tonight will tell how ready we are,” Hudson said. “Everything usually comes together.”
Mike Perkins, who has been performing in the play for more than 18 years, says it takes even more to properly put on the play. He’s also adamant that every year seems to go smoother than the year before.
“I’d say it takes more than 200 people to make this possible – most of which you never see,” Perkins said. “You have to think of people working behind the scenes, providing food, prayer groups and advertising.”
One production member audiences will never see — but thoroughly appreciate — is Bonnie Arterburn, the person in charge of makeup. While the actors will all undergo a spray-tan and full theatrical makeup, the injuries sustained by Jesus play a central role in the “Passion Play” production.
“We call them bacon strips, but we use pieces of latex for cuts and scrapes combined with plenty of art blood,” she said. “We use a lot of different types of blood. We have scabbing blood, light blood, and dry blood. We always buy it in large quantities.”
According to Minister of Music and play director Jerry Wright, the play finally came together one piece at a time. He explained how rehearsals for the choir began as early as mid-January, while principal characters have been rehearsing twice a week for the past six weeks.