With 12,037 attendees to the 2009 two weekend showing of one of Alberta’s top cultural attractions, the not-for-profit spectacle which reenacts the story of Jesus Chris, set a new record.
“I think there was a sell-out years back, but not within the last seven,” says general manager Vance Neudorf.
Neudorf says there are a couple ideas behind the success, citing good media attention, Albertans vacationing closer to home, and the play gaining notoriety nation-wide.
“Or maybe in an economic downturn, a story of hope is something people gravitate to,” Neudorf said.
The quality of the Passion Play has been risen significantly over the years, Neudorf says, with an orchestra being added recently.
Work for the play begins in May, volunteering six weeks before the performance.
“It’s kind of a big family camp, everyone has so much fun,” Neudorf said while explaining the cast members shave their biblically inspired beards at a party post-performance.
Neudorf says some people have been volunteering ascast members for six years, with families being raised with this annual event.
“They come on their own time, their own dime. Their kids grow up being part of this thing,” he said.
While it may be soon to already begin plans for 2010’s performance, there are ideas floating around among the Passion Play.
“We’re trying to work on a five year cycle of the script, honing it more and changing things,” Neudorf said before mentioning 2011’s play will feature an entirely new script, prepared a year and a half before.
While the play does not plan on extending their two weekend showing to three, Neudorf says there is a chance if attendance increases 20 per cent like it did so this year, there could very well be a third weekend of the biblical reenactment down the road.