The Passion Play Site is a flurry of activity as masons place the final stones, costume makers stitch the final pieces of wardrobe, and actors, directors and musicians perfect their parts for this year’s Passion Play.
The Canadian Badlands Passion Play has enjoyed nearly two decades of renowned success in the valley and has told the passion and resurrection of Christ to thousands of spectators in the natural amphitheatre nestled in the hills.
Despite this, every year those who stage the play are continually tweaking it to make it more relevant and accessible.
“This year is going to be the best ever,” Randal Wiebe, artistic director told The Weekender, “and this is not just me, everyone is saying it.”
In its April 14 edition, The Drumheller Mail reported on some of the physical changes to the site which included a more accessible seating area for those with mobility issues, the addition of 150 seats and set improvements. What Wiebe is excited about is the play. He says actors and directors have made the performance more accessible adding more depth to the characters, making it easier to identify with.
“It is more than a re-enactment, the actors bring more understanding to the story,” he said.
Returning are Tim Hildebrand as Matthew, Stephen Waldschmidt as Jesus, and Lennette Randall who portrays a powerful Mary Magdalene. Davis Snider, who played Jesus in 2007 is back in the fold at the Passion Play to portray Sadduk, a Pharisee in Jerusalem as well as act as an understudy for both Jesus and Matthew,
There have also been changes to the music and the addition of a conductor, so the musical director Bill Hamm can monitor the performance more effectively.
Wiebe explains one change that surprised him as to the powerful affect it has had on the look of the performance is in the costumes. He said designers have made a concerted effort to recreate the costumes so they reflect the regional clothing and time period of the characters in the play. He says it has made an impact visually on the performance.
The Passion Play opens tonight, Friday, July 9 at 6 p.m. and plays Saturday, July 10 at 6p.m., and Sunday, July 11 at 3 p.m. It continues Friday, July 16 at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 17 at 3 p.m., and Sunday, July 18 at 3 p.m.
For more information go to www.canadianpassionplay.com.