Family Worship Theater To Perform Cantata

Members of Family Worship Theater rehearse the Last Supper scene of the cantata, Come Walk With Me: Through The Passion and Resurrection of Christ. Family Worship Theater along with the St. James Choir will perform two shows next week. The first will be today at 4 p.m. while the second will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. P-J photo by William Mohan

Rehearsals have been taking place since January.

Now the cast members of Family Worship Theater will take the stage at St. James Roman Catholic Church in Jamestown.

Along with the St. James Choir, they will present Come Walk With Me: Through The Passion and Resurrection of Christ. Originally composed by conductor Pepper Choplin. The production reflects on the hours leading to Christ’s death and his resurrection. The event is directed by longtime Worship Theater member Tom Franco.

A cantata is a musical drama portraying the sacred moments of Christ’s life. The main focus is the Last Supper and the crucifixion.

Music will be directed by Cathy Gagliano who will also perform on the piano. The production includes eight soloists and 30 choir members. The soloists will also perform as the cast.

Songs that will be performed by the choir include “Blessed Is He Who Comes,” “Come to the Upper Room,” “Crossroads at Gethsemane,” “Hanging on a Cross,” “No Greater Love,” and “He Arose,” in ad well as the title song, “Come Walk With Me.”

The event will also include narration, acting and visual effects. The church altar will also be used during the production of The Last Supper.

At the end of each performance St. James’ pastor, the Rev. Darrell Duffy will give a blessing to the audience. The show will perform today at 4 p.m. and Wednesday at 7 p.m. Both performances will be approximately an hour long.

Performances by the Family Worship Theater only occurs every two years because of the amount of time and effort that would be needed to perform annually.

“It’s a lot of work to put on these shows,” Gagliano said. “It’s a combination of narration and music.”

Franco originally performed in the Worship Theater from 1959 to 1976.

“I have been participating since I was young,” Franco said.

This year will mark the 15th performance of Worship Theater. Franco said that the cast has been rehearsing and practicing for almost a month and a half.

For Franco the performances are special because he has seen the performers increase in their experience and also advance in roles as they age.

“We have actors who were originally children when they started and they are now playing Jesus,” Franco said.

Franco admits that while the event will include costumes, lighting, and props, no scenery will be used. It is a method that has been used by Worship Theater since 2013. Its purpose is for the audience to maintain contact with performers and not what is around them.

“We want people to use their imaginations when they see the show,” Franco said. “We want people to focus on the action.”

Franco also said the ending is structured to let the audience picture the last hours of Christ’s life for themselves. Silhouette, lights, fog and voices reading off stage will be used.

“The community looks for the event every year,” Franco said. “Sometimes we have people who come the night of the event and they want to be a part of it.”

The performances will take place at the sanctuary of St. James. St. James is located at 27 Allen St. in Jamestown. Parking and entrance to the sanctuary is available on the Foote Avenue side of the building. For more information call 487-0125 or look for St. James Church on Facebook.