Hundreds of performers are set to bring the Easter message to the streets of Lytham as the town’s first open-air Passion Play is performed later this month.
St Annes teenager Brandon Gutierrez will take the role of Jesus in the event organised by the Lytham Ecumenical Partnership, in conjunction with Park View 4U, on the afternoon of Palm Sunday, March 29.
Echoing the open-air style of the traditional Oberammergau Passion Play, which has been performed in Germany for almost five centuries, the re-enactment of the ancient story of Christ’s passion will be told by community for the community with local schools, bands and choirs, plus a team of teenage actors all taking part.
They will come together on the amphitheatre and QEII playing fields of Park View and follow a procession route around Lytham and before finishing back at Park View.
The actors will wear modern dress and organisers say the aim is for the live and recorded music to be relevant and moving, with the aim of making sure the realism reflects that the world is still a dangerous place for many.
Alison Newsham, Lytham Ecumenical Partnership and Children’s Youth Worker for the town’s St Cuthbert’s and St John’s parishes, said: “We hope to bring home to true meaning of Easter – that it’s not just about eggs and bunnies!”
The staging of the Passion Play follows the success of a Walking Nativity, also organised by the Lytham Ecumenical Partnership in conjunction with Park View 4U, over recent Christmases and Cath Powell, Park View 4U’s community development manager, added: “This is going to be another great project to be involved in, with drama, dance and music bringing the event up to date for modern eyes, powerful and free.
“Every church and school in Lytham will be taking part with stunning drama, dance and music and it will be a powerful piece of street theatre which tells the story of the Passion of Christ but with a modern twist.”
Brandon, 17, is a sixth former at Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College who is specialising in theatre studies and hopes to make a career in acting.
He said “I’ve never done anything like this before but I am very excited and feel moved by taking on such a sensitive role.”
He has previously performed with the Lytham Academy of Theatre Arts, taking the lead role of Chris in the company’s 2013 production Miss Saigon, and long-time director of the company, Lynda Clarkson, said: “Directing Brandon was a pleasure as he was keen to learn and always worked hard. It’s great news to hear he is performing in the Passion Play and we wish him every success.
The Oberammergau Passion Play was first performed in 1634 and is the result of a vow made by the inhabitants of the village that if God spared them from the effects of the bubonic plague then sweeping the region they would perform a passion play every 10 years.
The play is now performed in years ending with a zero, as well as in 1934 which was the 300th anniversary and 1984 which was the 350th anniversary. It involves over 2000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians, all residents of the village.