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March 23, 2016

Inside New Melle’s passion Around Town


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The cast members of in the New Melle Community Passion Play perform on March 19 at the New Melle Sports & Recreation Center in New Melle.

Photos by Ray Rockwell

Volunteers in New Melle Community Passion Play mark 35th year of a local Easter tradition School

By Brett Auten Think of it as the little engine that could of community theater. This past weekend the New Melle Community Passion Play wrapped its 35th year of presenting the story of the last days in the life of Christ. For the two weekends before Easter, the play has grown to become a must-see Easter event. “It’s a small community that pulls off a grand production,” Donna Curdt, co-producer of the event said. “It’s very moving for all of us.” The play began as a labor of love by Mariam and Gene Steward and has now been embraced by Curdt, fellow producer Paul Mills and the many who are involved in the production as well as those who return every year to watch the portrayal. The volunteer actors, singers and people behind the scenes bring a new twist and different talents each year, breathing fresh life into the production. Curdt was one of those audience members who was fascinated and motivated by the production and was inspired to join the team. “I came to see it and I was very moved,” she said. “My sister and I both sang and we decided to volunteer and sing with the choir. But one purpose led to another and I was cast in a role.” The ability to be flexible and multi-

aware of their talents until we get them in a role. We’re from different denominations and have different beliefs but we’re all Christians and that pulls us together.” While the basic story is as old as time, there have been a few rewrites over the years, tweaking some dialogue, mixing and matching old songs with new and character changes. The New Melle Community Passion Play has been held in recent years at the tasking is a key component in being a member of the team and in putting on the production.  “Oftentimes we have characters play multi-roles, switching into different costumes during the play,” Curdt said.  This year’s cast was 30-people deep. Ideally, Curdt and company would like to have 50-to-60 members to help flush out the cast.  The level of commitment in order to keep this non-denominational production thriving for nearly 40 years is heartening.  Actors and singers, who dabble in the craft at best, come from all over including Lincoln, Warren and St. Charles counties and as far away as House Springs and Elsberry. “They trickle in from all over,” Curdt said. “Some people have a little bit more experience but most generally aren’t

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CNSTC: March 23, 2016  
CNSTC: March 23, 2016  

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