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Kansas cast brings Bible to life

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

Gathered around two tables, serving up pizza, the cast of the "Living Last Supper" -- a doctor, a radio announcer, teachers, coaches, and other professionals -- strike a parallel between themselves and the unlikely chosenness of Christ's disciples.

"Just to think, we have all different types of people, and it was the same (at the original last supper)," said Tony Luna, a doctor from Minneola who portrays Simon the Zealot in the drama. "He had fishermen, he had tax collectors, he had rough guys.

"I'm sure they had fun, too, and I'm sure they laughed. ... And I'm sure Jesus had to say, 'Come on guys, let's get serious.' "

The cast and stage crew from churches in Bucklin, Minneola, Kingsdown, Cimarron and Dodge City paused for some fellowship Friday evening in the basement of Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center before dress rehearsal for their upcoming weekend performances.

The "Living Last Supper" was performed Saturday night and will be presented again at 3 p.m. today at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

This is the third year the "Living Last Supper," sponsored by the Bucklin Ministerial Alliance and Ellis County Ministerial Alliance, has come to Hays. Throughout the years, the cast also has brought the production to Dodge City and Bucklin.

Naomi Jantz, director of the drama, said her involvement with the "Living Last Supper," written by Ruth Vaughn, has brought her closer to cast members and has given Jantz the gratification that comes with uncovering the potential of others.

"Every time one of them (prospective cast members) was asked (to join the cast), probably 99 percent of them would say, 'I'm not an actor,' " she said. " 'I can't do that.' And I said, 'I'm not looking for actors; I'm just looking for someone who's willing.' "

Cast members, Jantz said, have shared with her how participating in the drama has drawn them closer to Christ's story.

"It has helped them enrich their spiritual lives and helped them to realize, it's not me that does this, it's the Lord working through me that portrays this particular disciple," she said.

When asked to express how the drama had impacted his life, Luna said he didn't know where to start.

"It's made me think a lot about my personal life, and trying to portray a disciple who was so close to Christ makes you think about your actions and your thoughts," he said. "I was thinking about that the other night. ... Christ knew their every thought.

"I can't even imagine how humbling that would be."

Transitioning from a backstage role to that of Mary Magdalene, Amanda Ling, Minneola, has gained a new perspective on the role her character played in the crucifixion and resurrection story.

"I envisioned myself as if I was actually seeing Christ for real and the impact that would have and the excitement Mary Magdalene has after she witnesses (the resurrection)," Ling said. "It becomes easy for me to be excited and portray that part.

"Believe me, if that were to actually happen, I would be elated and I would tell everybody."

In addition to the dramatic production, Nathan Prisk, formerly of the Daybreak Quartet, will perform with Christian pianist Gregory Howlett prior to and during the "Living Last Supper."

Free unreserved tickets are available for the show at the door. Donations will be given to the Ellis County Ministerial Alliance's Second Mile Fund.