Passion Play goes 'Beyond Dickens'

Monday, November 10, 2003
A town crier, portrayed by Hugh Logsdon, accompanied by light-bearer Lucas Weathers, reads a proclamation to Loren Weathers during a recent rehearsal for "Beyond Dickens," a new Christmas event debuting at The Great Passion Play this year.

Carroll County residents are invited to be the guests of The Great Passion Play on Friday, Nov. 14, to experience the new one-of-a-kind Christmas event called "Beyond Dickens."

The event has been planned for more than a year and is Carroll County's newest attraction. According to Passion Play spokesperson Mardell Bland, renowned artist Lorenzo Green designed the impressive staging area, which was built cooperatively by Green and the Great Passion Play's construction team.

The city of Eureka Springs is celebrating A Dickens of a Christmas and The Great Passion Play is participating in the city-wide effort. A Dickens era Victorian street scene will be staged in front of the Great Wall with people in Victorian costume strolling and caroling amid a backdrop of Victorian Christmas decorations.

A "town crier" will be stationed at the gate of the Great Wall, inviting people to go through the gate and enter into the city of Bethlehem as it was at the time of Christ. The crier will make reference to Scrooge's experience with the Ghost of Christmas Past and will encourage people to travel back "Beyond the Ghost of Christmas Past, Beyond Dickens, to the First Christmas."

The town of Bethlehem will be represented behind the Great Wall with Roman soldiers, camels, donkeys, horses, and people from remote parts of the Roman Empire who traveled to Bethlehem to register for the census.

Costumed characters will interact with visitors and they can meet Mary and Joseph, Roman soldiers, the three kings, and talk to the shepherds who learned of Jesus' birth from an angel.

A display of Christmas nativities from around the world will be on the grounds in the buffet building; there will be choirs and soloists bringing special Christmas music; and an interactive corner will be available for children.

In Smith Memorial Chapel, an enormous collection of original art works by many of the nation's leading Christian artists will be on display only during this Christmas season. Such artists as Thomas Blackshear, Ron DiCianni, Frank Ordaz, Tom DuBois, Lorenzo Green, and Jack Dawson will be featured.

A collection of angels will be presented in the Sacred Arts Center, along with the magnificent collection of Christian-themed art. Many of the Bibles in the Bible Museum will be opened to the Christmas story, and there will be a special collection of bells exhibited there.

This will be an event that families will want to make an annual event, Bland said. "The true spirit of Christmas will make everyone's holiday more meaningful and more fun as they walk into the night that Jesus was born and experience the joy of His birth. "

"Beyond Dickens" at The Great Passion Play will operate from Nov. 7 through Dec. 20, 2003, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be no performance on Thanksgiving. Cost of admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 17 with a family pass of $20 for parents and all their children 17 and under. Groups of 15 or more are $7.50 per person.

For more information call 1-800-882-7529. On Friday, Nov. 14, Carroll County residents need only show the "census taker" their Carroll County identification to be admitted free of charge.

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