Volunteers from a couple of local churches have teamed up to produce a free, unique Good Friday cantata.
“For Such a One as This” is a dramatic musical presentation for Holy Week presented by Allen Memorial United Methodist Church and Mars Hill Presbyterian Church.
The theatrical production is being directed by Jennifer Nunley, who is also directing the Mars Hill Choir. Nunley explained that others are performing in the production who are not from either church.
“In that way, it’s become a community, ecumenical event,” she said, which she believes will enhance the show. “There’s more people involved from different churches and different strengths.”
“For Such a One as This” will showcase the stories of participants leading up to the time of the crucifixion — and Nunley said the show will tell those stories in a different way.
“It’s refreshing. I’ve seen a lot of cantatas and they do seem to present these individuals as legends,” Nunley noted. On the other hand, this production “takes the same material, information and history but presents the human side of the event through their participation.”
According to the director, the production’s style will allow for better audience connection. Nunley explained that sometimes, when the story is read in a conventional way, it “doesn’t resonate” with the audience because the characters seem “one-dimensional.”
Because this show dives a little deeper into humanity through the complexities of characters, Nunley said “we can empathize and understand it in a real way.”
In the Good Friday show, actor Jason Carusillo will play the role of Pontius Pilate. Like Nunley, he explained that the storyline offers the audience a wider perspective.
“I’ve seen productions of the crucifixion before but never seen anything so narrative,” Carusillo said. “You normally don’t have enough time to focus on each character, but in this one, the monologues are well written and in a modern way, which makes the story more relatable.”
Along with performing as the show’s organist, Sylvia Gossett is the director for the Allen Memorial Choir.
“It’s fun,” said Gossett on why community members should come. “There’s so much drama, which is not typical of cantatas. I think everyone will enjoy it. It will be wonderful.”
Gossett also explained that she believes it will amplify the worship experience for people as Easter approaches.
“As far as the worship side of it, you don’t get to the resurrection without the crucifixion,” she said, adding that the event will be a time for “good fellowship and congregation.”
Nunley and Gossett also expressed their appreciation for Allen Memorial Pastor Charla Sherbakoff and Mars Hill Interim Pastor Dr. Ford King III Jr. in supporting the production.
About 50 people including actors, singers and instrumentalists will come together to perform “For Such a One as This.”
Featured roles in the cast include: Josh Bragg as Jesus, Cynthia McCowan as Mary, Carusillo as Pontius Pilate, Tyler Peaden as Judas, Brad McKenzie as Peter, Brad Jewell as Simon of Cyrene, Colby Pilkey and Ben Burchfield as The Two Thieves, Katie Bragg as Mary Magdalene and Savannah Self will be the pianist.
The show is a Tenebrae, meaning it will end in total darkness, which is typical of this type of religious ceremony. Due to the nature of the production, audience members are asked to not clap at the end of the show.
“For Such a One as This” features music by Mark Hayes, lyrics by Bob Hoose and concept and drama by Jim Custer.
Free and open to the public, the show will be performed on April 19 at 7 p.m. at Allen Memorial United Methodist Church, which is located at 800 Decatur Pike in Athens.