MANASSAS — A camel stood in the gymnasium of the Manassas Assembly of God last week, distracted by flying angels and hundreds of actors dressed in cloaks and beards.
The animal known for its humps and spitting demeanor was just a small part of “The Glory of Easter,” an extravagant production put on by the church last week boosted by some of the countrys best at putting on a show. Officials from Disney and Universal Studios in Orlando helped with the set design and lighting, and the Las Vegas-based firm Flying-By-Foy helped set up the flying angels. Total cost for the production was about $175,000.
The program, in dramatic style, covered the life of Jesus Christ from his birth to his resurrection.
“We wanted those attending the production to experience the impact Christ had on the lives of those who encountered him from every walk of life the young and old, those rich and poor, the well educated and the uneducated, those who believed in Him as the Messiah and even those who did not believe and killed him,” said the Rev. Lane Smith, music pastor at the church, who has helped put on the show each of the 12 times it has run.
With a cast of 175 church members and animals, the Easter program sold out each of its six shows.
In all, more than 400 people were involved in the production.
“Everyone I talked to of the nearly 5,000 who attended raved about how great the production was,” said Smith.
Drawing particular praise was Tom Staples, who once again played the role of Jesus.
The production started small a dozen years ago 50 in the cast and has grown each year.
In addition to the camel, a horse, donkey, llama and baby goats and lambs were all part of the production.
“We think the animals added a great touch to the production … and many people were amazed to see them in a church and came out to see if it were true,” said Smith.
Smith said he and Richey came up with the original idea for the play.
“We knew we couldnt get everyone to come to church to share the Gospel, but possibly we could get them to come to a play built around the life of Christ. It became the mission of the church and is now recognized as one of the top Easter productions put on by any church in the area. We draw people from all over the Washington metropolitan area.”
Smith said the production is reviewed by a church group at the conclusion of each years production, and often changes are made to make it better.
“For instance this year, we had more elaborate sets, video clips, added a disciple song and an intermission,” he said.
This years production was held in the churchs gymnasium, which also serves as the sanctuary until a new church is built on the site.