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‘Upon This Rock’ returns With special guest and new scene

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Get ready to be inspired again. “Upon This Rock” (UTR) is back for another exciting weekend.

For many people, the celebration of Easter isn’t complete without seeing the annual Indianapolis passion play, which depicts the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For 26 years, viewers throughout Indiana and busloads of guests from places as far as California and Texas have come to Indianapolis to witness the production.

And those who have seen it year after year “feel no ways tired,” in the words of the late Rev. James Cleveland.

“It has become an Easter tradition,” said Pastor A. Thomas Hill, managing director of UTR and pastor of Healing Streams Word and Worship Center in Indianapolis. “Every year the production offers something different and fresh, and it tells a story that never gets old.”

This year’s installment of the musical will be performed on April 2 and April 3 at Pike Performing Arts Center. Legendary gospel vocalist Tramaine Hawkins will appear as a special guest during various scenes and the intermission.

UTR is designed to lift the experiences of Jesus from the pages of the Bible and bring them to life on stage. A group of more than 300 cast members and crew representing numerous churches present realistic, detailed scenes that take viewers back in time to see Christ and other figures such as the apostle Peter, Mary Magdalene and Pontius Pilate.

One should not expect to sit quietly as a mere spectator during UTR. Viewers are often motivated to participate as they feel a range of emotions, whether they are joyously dancing to the catchy musical selections, crying as the crucifixion takes place or cheering after seeing Jesus conquer death.

The audience even participates in the sharing of communion during the Passover scene.

Upon This Rock was first presented in 1984 as a small church musical organized as an extracurricular activity by playwright Sharon Thompson, Hill’s sister.

“We decided to do it another year and gave it a face lift, and the crowd kept growing,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling that comes from seeing the growth of this ministry.”

Since its first run, UTR has gone from an audience of a few hundred to thousands of guests filling venues such as Clowes Hall on the campus of Butler University.

This year’s Good Friday performance will feature both a matinee and evening show for the convenience of patrons.

Another addition will be songs performed by Hawkins, a Grammy, Dove and Stellar award winner best known for gospel classics such as “Changed,” “That Kind of Friend,” “Goin’ Up Yonder” and “Holy One.”

Also, the production will include a new scene that depicts Peter walking on water with exciting special effects.

With open auditions, UTR provides opportunities for both amateur and professional actors. Thompson and Hill have used the success of UTR to assist churches and organizations in establishing their own productions.

“People should come with great expectations and be ready to relax and let go of their stress because Upon This Rock is more than a production, it’s an experience,” Thompson said. “This story never dies, and there is always something refreshing about the gospel.”

Hill believes UTR provides a strong affirmation for people who are secure in their faith, and offers a transforming experience for others who realize that Jesus has the power to “resurrect” any aspect of their life that has been heading towards a dead end.

“We are glad that many people look forward to seeing Upon This Rock every year,” Hill said. “It feels really good knowing that it has ministered to people and impacted them in a significant way.”

Don’t miss

your blessing!

What:

Upon This Rock

When:

Friday, April 2 and

Saturday, April 3 at

11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Where:

Pike Performing

Arts Center, 6701

Zionsville Rd.

Tickets:

$25 to $32 (Discounts for seniors, children, the handicapped and groups)

For more info:

Call (317) 280-8077 or

visit www.utrpro.com.

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