Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 5, 2004
Easter classic looking for a home
Love According to John celebrates its 33rd production
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
After 33 years, a beloved Easter stage production is uncertain whether it will be resurrected once the Jubilee Auditorium is closed for renovations.
Love According to John, the Easter classic directed and produced by June Hunt, will see its string of consecutive successful shows broken when the theatre fades to black July 1, 2004 until Sept. 5, 2005.
"This is a very important year for us because it will be two years before we can be back in the Jubilee," Hunt said.
"We do have a church we can perform in next year, but that wouldn't be the same thing. I don't like that arrangement too much because it would be in one denomination.
"That's a reason why the Jubilee is so wonderful because it isn't drawing any denominational lines. Neither does the material we deal with. We can all ascribe to it."
Hunt downplays any doubts someone might have about seeing Love According to John again in that the production continually improves upon itself.
"A person might think they saw the production in 1975 so they don't need to watch it again. It certainly isn't the same show as it was then. It evolves in a positive way every year," she said.
"The people who have been involved for years build upon what they have learned which is invaluable experience to pass along to the newer members."
Hunt believes this year's show, with more than 320 cast members, is more significant given the longevity of its production happens to coincide with Christ's age when he was crucified on the Cross.
She is also confident the production is the best one yet.
"For the cast, it is never the same show from year to year," she said. "We always change the music and certainly there is a change in the personnel. We do it for ourselves and it is really important. The script doesn't change very much because it is right from Scripture.
"The music keeps improving. We continue to attract better talent to the cast and crew who are so well trained."
Hunt says the production has maintained so long because it has worship value to a lot of people. Audience members come from as far away as Vancouver every year to see the show.
In its inaugural year in 1972, the production included an ensemble of raw, inner city kids who belonged to a Christian-focused youth group (Teen Time). It gave them something constructive to occupy their time and to release their creative abilities. It was presented as a musical at the SUB theatre.
"It involved a lot of terror and prayer on their part - and on mine," Hunt said. "But that's very good for drama because it had a tremendous reliance on the Lord. When the kids came to perform, they were all in prayer backstage. It was an exciting performance because it came from the heart. The music wasn't as good as it is now, but it had its own wonderful quality."
In 1976, it graduated to the Victoria Composite Theatre and in 1980, it moved to the Jubilee.
This year's production will also see Ken Noster reprise the role of Jesus. It will be Noster's 30th year. His wife, Marlene, again provided valuable theatre workshops. They have two daughters and a son as cast members.
"We have people who come to watch the show every year," Hunt said. "It's part of their Easter worship. They really appreciate the show. In fact, ticket sales continue to climb from year to year."
People who come, who are Christians, have told Hunt the show helps them to build up their faith. It encourages them. And they, in turn, bring non-Christians whom they might want to introduce to Christianity but maybe not with a church service.
"They tell us it is a perfect way to do so because the show is entertaining and there is no pressure on anyone," she said. "It is a big tool people use to share their faith."
The 33rd production of Love According to John will run on Good Friday, April 9, to Easter Sunday, April 11. Evening performances are slated the first two nights and an afternoon matinee Easter Sunday.
Tickets are available at Christian book and record stores. Further information and special rates can be made by calling 455-0787. All seats are reserved.