Church plans elaborate Easter production

Published 9:58 pm Monday, April 3, 2017

A local church is preparing for its Easter stage production this Sunday.

Southside Baptist Church members will hold its Easter drama “The Resurrection of a Convicted Man” at 6 p.m. The play is an account of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ written by director Ernie Chenault, with music tracks from the album “Lion of Judah.”

“It’s basically looking at the last week of Jesus’ earthly life from the perspective of everyone in Jerusalem,” Chenault said. “The Jews, the Roman leadership, the religious authority and the common man. Everyone gets a piece.”

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The production is supported primarily by donations and volunteers, including 33 choir members, 12 extras, six musicians and 11 actors in speaking roles, according to Chenault. Live and recorded sound effects will play through speakers that echo throughout the 400-person auditorium.

Pastor J.C. Kimmer — who plays the role of Caiaphas — said it’s one of the church’s most impressive productions since the church expanded its Carolina Road facility four years ago.

“It’s the first time we’ve used these facilities in this way,” he said. “It’s nothing we’ve done before.”

Actors have met three times a week for rehearsals over the past few months, and the choir has practiced since Christmas, according to Suffolk resident Allison Carr, who has been with the church for nine years and grew up dancing with a local ballet school.

She is playing the role of Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate, who encouraged her husband not to participate in Jesus’ execution. Carr said she enjoyed playing the “tormented” and relatable character.

“She was like so many seeking to find the truth, and seeking to find something greater than ourselves,” she said.

She recalled rehearsing lines while comforting her 2-year-old daughter, Kayla Carr. Jesse Matthews, one of her co-stars, was doing the same with his own 2-year-old child.

“I had one baby on my hip and he had one on his, and we just carried on,” she said.

The production’s sign language volunteers possess similar enthusiasm.

Lakeland High School American Sign Language teacher and head church interpreter Anita Fisher has been practicing with five interpreters, including several Lakeland students. Lakeland senior Lettie Owens said her favorite part is “getting into the feeling” of the play with the actors.

“When you interpret things, you’re supposed to act as the actors are acting and put your feelings into it,” she said.

Fisher said the interpreters not only resonate with the deaf, but many of the hearing audience as well.

“They become more visually attached to the story, even though they can’t interpret,” she said. “They recognize the meaning of the content based on facial expressions and body language.”

Chris Cordova, who plays Jesus Christ, said he hopes those emotions are felt this Sunday.

“You hear it, you see it, and we pray that you feel it,” he said.

Call 539-6629 or visit for more information. The church is located at 917 Carolina Road.