Art masterpieces come to life on stage in “Behold the Man,” a multimedia presentation that will be at Middlebury Baptist Church on Sunday, July 21 at 10:00 a.m. The show uses images, drama and song to convey the emotions of Jesus’ trial and burial. The presentation will be presented by a North Carolina drama team that is making it fourth trip to the Northeast. The show projects art work by masters such as Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Heinrich Hofman, Rembrandt van Rijn and Caravaggio during the performance and showcases two masterpieces by Antonio Ciseri, a Florence, Italy painter known for his religious works. Actors pose in the positions of Ciseri’s painting “Ecce Homo” and step out of the painting to speak to the audience. The painting captures the moment when Pontius Pilate ponders what should be done with Jesus. “The painting captures a decisive moment, just as da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ does,” said Tim Stevens, playwright and director. “In da Vinci’s painting Jesus has just said one of his followers will betray him. In Ciseri’s work, there is similar tension as everyone has to make a decision.” The actors also recreate Ciseri’s “The Entombment,” which shows the body of Christ being taken to the tomb. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dana Stephenson, one of the show’s principals and a former Miss North Carolina. “The works of art create an atmosphere and the characters come out to talk about their emotions and thoughts. The show makes you think.” Stevens said his reflections while studying the paintings inspired the play. “The more you study the paintings, the more you see,” said Stevens, a nationally known sports writer who is in the National High School Sports Hall of Fame. “I kept wondering what these people must be thinking.” Most of the actors this season are members of Aversboro Road Baptist Church in Garner, N.C., which is probably best known for being the hometown of native Scotty McCreery, winner of the 2011 American Idol. The church began the summer tours in 2005 with a trip to Central Vermont on Memorial Day weekend. The group has done tours each summer since. The team has performed its plays about hymn writers P.P. Bliss and Fanny Crosby in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia and throughout North Carolina. “The trips are a highlight for us,” Stevens said. “The tours give us an opportunity to tell this story and to meet people. Plus the tours give us time to spend with each other.” The team travels by bus, riding six to eight hours each day and provides all of its light, sound and multimedia equipment. “Every performance is different and every venue is different,” Stevens said. “We learn to be flexible.” In 2011, for example, the cast did seven shows in six days. Only two of the performances were the same as the team had to add and subtract elements because of time restraints.
Presented by the Aversboro Road Baptist Church music and drama team from Garner, NC.