Passion play draws emotional response

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 27, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The acting of Thomas L. Hall brought strong emotion and crying from many attendees of &uot;A Man Called Jesus&uot; at Metropolitan Baptist Church on Easter Sunday evening.

The standing room only crowd experienced three scenes of Hall; first, &uot;The Miracles of Jesus,&uot; which included &uot;The Last Supper,&uot; the prayer at Gethsemane and the trial; &uot;The Crucifixion&uot; in scene two, and &uot;The Resurrection&uot; in scene three. Selections by Metropolitan Mass Choir and sound effects highlighted the action taking place during the scenes and Margaret Higgs, church clerk, served as narrator.


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Arvis Saunders wrote and produced the play six years ago, and because Hall seems to have such a resemblance to Jesus, she chose him to portray Him.

Hall said the cast begins rehearsal in February and really gets serious at that time. He also said that during the production on Easter Sunday, the congregation really got involved and that their emotions and actions helped him get through the agony that Jesus went through.

Dr. Robert Hobbs, pastor of Metropolitan, later said he counted the minutes that Hall stayed still on the cross and commended him for having such stamina in doing so.

&uot;After Jesus dies, I am supposed to breathe in a way that is not noticeable to anyone; but during the rehearsal I was caught up in the spirit and couldn’t stay still,&uot; said Hall.

&uot;I work really hard at being serious about my role and in my study concerning his life I take on His pain.&uot;

He added that Satan seems to be always busy and that when it was getting closer to the time for the production to take place, he began to experience negative problems involving his family and job.

&uot;It was like I was being attacked from every angle; and during the play the sound system didn’t want to work. On production night I just took a deep breath relaxed and realized that I just had to really focus and get into the Word because I knew that Satan wasn’t happy about what we were trying to get across to the Lord’s people,&uot; he said.

He said that he totally put himself into humbleness and seriousness of how Jesus felt, tuned everyone else out, and held himself down. These three things of feeling, tuning and holding gave Hall what he really needed to relate to the audience how to appreciate and love &uot;A Man Called Jesus.&uot;

&uot;It is so lifelike, and the cast members are so talented with their gifts of acting and performing,&uot; said Saunders.&uot; The Lord gave me the vision and insight along with over 100 members

from all areas of the church including the youth to do a great work in reaching souls through their reenactment of biblical times. The Lord also led me to the anointed members, and as I approached each of them with their tasks, they readily accepted.

The clothing made the scenes seem more real. Each cast member designed his own clothing and the Roman soldiers’ attire was created by cast members, sometimes assisted by Saunders. Hall made the crosses, Gloria Briggs designed Roman costumes, Cleo Johnson designed angels’ attire and Linda Porter drew the scenery.

Pastor Emeritus Dr. Melvin Boone assisted Saunders with the addition to Scene One of

&uot;The Last Supper&uot; in 2000.

He said in his remarks that he would like to see the production moved to larger auditoriums with a better sound system.

Hobbs said that the cast put on a great performance but also complimented the minister of music, Thurman Murphy, for his musical ability during the play.

Under Murphy’s direction the Metropolitan Mass Choir brought tears of emotion to the audience with sacred music during the play and spirits were set on fire praising God in sanctified dance with praise dance music.

No matter what denomination people in the audience belonged to, there was something for everyone who witnessed the play, &uot;A Man Called Jesus&uot; in Metropolitan Baptist Church on Easter Sunday afternoon.