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Thursday, 20 June 2013 08:47

Cdn. Badlands Passion Play ready for July showings

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Long-time Rosebud actor Aaron Krogman, right, takes over the role of Jesus in this summer’s performances of the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. Long-time Rosebud actor Aaron Krogman, right, takes over the role of Jesus in this summer’s performances of the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. Photo supplied

Rehearsals for the Canadian Badlands Passion Play are well underway as the more than 200 performers and 400 volunteers get ready to present the dramatic retelling of the life of Jesus Christ this July.

Aaron Krogman, known for his leading roles in at least one production on the Rosebud Opera House stage each year, is taking over the main role of Jesus this summer. The previous two years he was the understudy for the role.
“I’m excited about it,” he says. “Your first actual experience of understudying is a bit of a learning curve. When you’re understudying, it’s like baking a lot of muffins nobody is going to eat.”
The main actor and the understudy rehearse together taking turns playing the role. Krogman found even as the understudy he was able to contribute to some of the choices made production-wise. Now, as the lead actor, his perceptions do become part of the production.
The Passion Play is performed entirely outside no matter what kind of weather in a natural amphitheatre-type setting in the badlands.
“You’re either freezing or you’re roasting — one of the two,” says Krogman about the unique experience of taking a production to the outdoors.
What also makes it unique is the kind of natural lighting that can occur as well as the sheer number of people involved in the production.
“There are sometimes 25 to 30-person casts at Rosebud, which is pretty amazing and cool, but the Passion Play is so huge and so much bigger. It’s interesting with a group of 200 people. There’s something different about that.”
Krogman says for actors performing for audiences of 200 people, the sheer size of the cast of the Passion Play can be like performing for another audience on top of the one sitting on the benches.
“There’s something amazing about that in of itself.”
Krogman first saw the Passion Play about six or seven years ago and his first impression was one of amazement.
“There’s some kind of a magic feeling that happens when you’re watching 200 people move in a choreographed way out in the hills,” he says. “It can’t be overlooked, the value of that kind of storytelling.”
Krogman also believes the story itself is important.
“The content a lot of people are very familiar with. We can give people a fresh take on something that can be overly familiar to them. It’s a story that affects a lot of people (so) it’s important to keep telling (it).”
Vance Neudorf is the executive director of the Passion Play which earlier this month earned Best Documentary Under 30 Minutes and Best Director (Philip Spink) Non-Fiction Under 30 Minutes at the Alberta Film and Television Awards.
“It’s an iconic story,” says Neudorf, who’s been the executive director for the past five years. “You can’t beat the story and so many people relate to it on a personal level.”
When audiences see the Passion Play they become immersed in the story, thanks in part to the set and the script which is intentionally written for the site on which it is performed.
“It’s designed, as you’re sitting in the seats, you feel like part of the story,” adds Neudorf. “It’s the greatest story ever told and we tell it in the greatest way it’s ever been done.”
Individuals who have been to a performance in the past don’t need to worry about seeing the same play. Every year there are set changes and the story is altered somewhat. Last year the size of the stage was tripled and raised eight feet.
“It dramatically changed the way the story was told.”
This year blocks have been removed and the size of the temple gate area increased.
“We’re in a constant pursuit of doing this better,” adds Neudorf.
Doing it better involves more than 50,000 hours of volunteer service every year.
This year, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of performances, there will be nine shows with some mid-week to accommodate more people. The evening and afternoon performances take place July 10-21. To reserve a seat phone 1-888-823-2001 or online at:

Read 4402 times Last modified on Thursday, 20 June 2013 08:49
Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor