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(Rick Hickman / American Press)<br>

(Rick Hickman / American Press)

An actor portraying the role of Jesus Christ hangs from a cross on Sunday during Consolata Cemetery’s live drama of the Stations of the Cross. (Rick Hickman / American Press)<br>

An actor portraying the role of Jesus Christ hangs from a cross on Sunday during Consolata Cemetery’s live drama of the Stations of the Cross. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Passion play starts Easter festivities

Last Modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 11:45 AM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Hundreds gathered on Palm Sunday at Consolata Cemetery to see a live drama of the Stations of the Cross, which depicts the final hours before Christ’s death and the moments after his crucifixion.

With less than a week until Easter, Erica Radde of Lake Charles walked the 14 stations with her two children.

“It gives us a lot to talk about in the car on the way home,” Radde said. “I know they have a lot of questions.”

Her daughter, Jane Claire, said the story of Christ’s death is a lot more powerful when it is seen in person as opposed to reading or hearing about it.

“It was interesting and a lot more dramatic,” the 11-year-old said.

Radde’s 8-year-old son Preston said the part that stood out to him the most was the 12th station, when Jesus died on the cross.

Mary Baker of Lake Charles said the whole experience was “beautiful and breathtaking.”

“It’s unexplainable,” she said after the play. “Many of the people here probably are not Catholic. Most of them are probably either curiosity seekers or just have a strong faith.”

She said it was a moving experience that appealed to all people — regardless of faith or denomination.

Baker also said the narration was “spectacular” and the speakers placed throughout the cemetery allowed her to hear everything said.

“A lot of professional people put this on, and I look forward to next year,” she said about the cast, which consisted of about 50 people and several horses.

Charles McNeely, co-director of the production, provided the theatrical structure of the performance.

“Luckily we had a lot of committed people from the area who wanted to be involved,” said McNeely, who is associate professor of theatre at McNeese State University. “I love outdoor drama but this was the first time I was able to participate.”

McNeely said he was “truly thrilled” with the passion play.

“The actors went above and beyond, and I think we had something really special,” he said. “The people who were involved were familiar with the script – just needed ideas for their characters, so we worked with them on that.”

After many requests to put on the play, Gayle Marshall, manager at Consolata Cemetery, said he thought it would be a “good thing for the community.”

“We spent about a month getting prepared,” he said. “We had a fantastic sound system, a great makeup artist and a dedicated group of people who worked to put this on.”

Marshall said he hopes to put it on again next year.

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