‘Living Last Supper’

Area residents looking to celebrate Holy Week will have an opportunity to worship while also enjoying a cantata.

The St. James Church of Jamestown family worship theater will present “Living Last Supper,” a liturgical musical drama recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, Sunday at 4 p.m. and Good Friday at 7 p.m. The production is open to anyone of any faith, and admission is free.

The presentation features scripture and historical Biblical-based monologues by the actors portraying Jesus and his disciples. The actors hold the “Last Supper” pose throughout the production, and only break to give their speech. The play will feature an ensemble of more than 18 actors who range in age from 18 to 73. The cast of Jesus and his disciples include: Darrell Stein as Bartholomew; Thomas Liuzzo as James; Tony Prinzi as Andrew; Jim Alexander as Judas; Dick Sena as Peter; Dean Benson as John; Vincent Liuzzo as Jesus; Nick Schepis as Thomas; Larry Banes as James; Jim Hale as Philip; Andy Liuzzo Sr. as Matthew; Vince Cimino as Thaddeus; and Andrew Liuzzo Jr. as Simon.

The show, which was written by Ruth Elaine Schram, will open with an introduction by Roseann Himes. Her piece will be followed by an overture and processional by Cathy Gagliano, music director. Her choir of more than 28 members will then perform “How Great His Love,” before the monologues begin. Other songs performed by the choir include: “Is It I?,” “King Triumphant,” “You Are the Bread” and a finale of “How Great His Love.”

Each year the church hosts a production of a similar nature, and “Living Last Supper” is the 11th annual. Many members of the group have participated in previous productions.

IS IT I?

Tom Franco, director, and the actors gathered at St. James Church on Wednesday for one of the final dress rehearsals. Patty Franco, assistant director, Kathy Benson, stage coordinator, and Roseann Himes, costuming and introduction, were also in attendance. The group has been rehearsing since early January.

According to Franco, the premise of the play is summarized in the words “Is It I?” which is also a song performed by the choir.

“During the Last Supper, Jesus told his disciples that one of them would betray him, as we all do every day of our lives,” said Franco. “Ultimately the most important lesson of this presentation is God’s love and mercy. God’s will is perfect, but sometimes difficult to understand. This performance will help people realize what is important in life. And, we believe that the reward on Earth is nothing compared to the reward in the eternal kingdom.”

The question of “Is It I?” more specifically refers to the person who betrayed Jesus, Judas, who is portrayed by Jim Alexander. According to Alexander, the play is a great way to give the audience insight into each apostle’s thoughts.

“Judas knows what he is going to do because he had a plan in mind, and so he knew that he was going to be the betrayer,” said Alexander. “Playing his character gives me insight into what he was thinking because he was Jesus’ friend. Whether he was jealous, or disappointed at the way things were coming about, it makes you think about what was the purpose of betraying his friend. I get a sense that Judas was maybe a little misled because he was thinking Jesus’ message was of an Earthly kingdom, and by betraying him his followers would rise up to lead a rebellion and ultimately put Jesus in as the ruler of this Earthly kingdom. But, that was never Jesus’ intention, he was always talking about the greater kingdom of Heaven.”

The actor who portrays Jesus in the play is Vincent Liuzzo. Liuzzo participated in several other productions by the church while he was in high school.

“It’s great to be given the opportunity to take part in this community liturgy,” said Liuzzo.

One of the cast members who has been participating in the church’s productions since they originated in 2003 is Dick Sena, who opens the monologue portion of the play with his portrayal of Peter. He enjoys doing it because it is a lot of fun, and it is something he can do for the Easter season, he said.

“It’s a demanding part because I set the tone,” said Sena. “The one thing I’ve enjoyed the most about doing this is because it is a Christian unity thing that gets other churches into ours to enjoy the season together. We’ve had great attendance by all denominations.”

St. James Church is located at 27 Allen St. in Jamestown. For more information, call 487-0125.