Meal of meaning
More than 500 years after Leonardo da Vinci painted "The Last Supper," members of a Cary congregation will bring it to life this week to remember Jesus' last Passover supper.
Cary Grove Evangelical Free Church will present "The Living Last Supper" with portrayals of Jesus and the 12 apostles for three performances: at 5 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday.
The drama will begin as a mirror to da Vinci's famous painting, which shows the apostles gathered around a table reacting to Jesus' pronouncement that one of them will betray him.
"The apostles show surprise and elements of shock when Christ announces that one of them would betray him. This is what da Vinci was trying to capture, and this is what we are trying to capture," said John Thomas, a congregation member who has directed the re-enactment for four years.
The church actors will take up the poses shown in the painting and remain in their positions for an hour, except when each takes a turn to talk about himself and what Jesus' teaching means to him. During every soliloquy, each will wonder out loud if he is the betrayer.
"We are constantly trying to take the audience members' emotions and take them up and down, so they remain engaged," Thomas explained.
The actors try to base their monologues on the personalities of each apostle, with some being more dramatic than others.
Thomas called Skip Moore's interpretation of Judas "chilling."
"I'm the guy on the stage who, by the end of the evening, turns evil," Moore said.
He knew his performance hit a chord with the audience last year when members of the congregation were hesitant to shake his hand or even approach him after the production.
"It takes some mental preparation to be one of the apostles and then to switch to become Judas," Moore explained.
All of the actors must be mentally and physically prepared to hold a pose for an hour. Moore tries to stare at the same spot or the same person.
Director Thomas prepares the crew with advice. Non-drowsy cold medicine should be taken to ward off sniffles, while anyone prone to cramps should take ibuprofen. Those in an awkward pose can use "invisible" props to keep their arms up for an hour.
Thomas wants audience members to reflect on the events that led to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
"We don't want you to walk out of the performance feeling uplifted. We want you to feel somber," he said.
"Then on Easter, we uplift your spirits and it's a joyful time."
Tickets to the performances are free and can be obtained by calling the church at (847) 639-7566. Cary Grove Evangelical Free Church is at 525 W. Ada St., Cary. For more information, visit the Web site, www.cgefc.org.
Living Last Supper
Here are some Living Last Supper events taking place in the Fox Valley, and/or involving area residents:
An original musical production, "Chosen: The Passion Meditation," will take place at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Marian Center, St. Peter Lutheran Church, 111 W. Olive St. in Arlington Heights. Admission is free. Call (847) 259-4114. Chris Mosher of Crystal Lake plays Jesus and Melissa Smith of Elgin plays Mary.
As part of the Good Friday service, a dramatic/musical presentation of The Living Last Supper, composed by Ruth Elaine Schram, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Christian Fellowship Church 3419 Walkup Road in Crystal Lake. Child care is available by reservation only. E-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Call the church office at (815) 459-9473 for child care or details on the service. Christian Fellowship Church is a non-denominational, contemporary congregation.
Members of St. Paul United Church of Christ in Elgin will re-enact the da Vinci's painting of "The Last Supper" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Everyone is invited. St. Paul's is at 220 Division St. in downtown Elgin. For information, call the church office at (847) 742-2854 or visit the Web site at www.stpauluccelgin.org.