What better way to prepare for Holy Week than to reflect on the "Last Supper?"
The final meal Christ shared with his 12 apostles is being dramatized by a local Catholic group for the 12th year.
This year's production will be at 8 p.m. April 2 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 2716 Broad Ave.
(Courtesy photo) Men from St. Mary and St. Michael the Archangel Catholic churches in Hollidaysburg will present the “Last Supper” April 2 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 2716 Broad Ave.
The production, based on a script first performed in 1954 at a church in Portsmouth, Va., was organized locally by a men's Bible study group from St. Mary and St. Michael Catholic churches in Hollidaysburg.
Since its inception, the group has tried to visit different churches in the area. About 400 people are expected to attend the dramatization in Altoona.
The setting is based on Leonardo Da Vinci painting "The Last Supper."
If you go
What: "Last Supper"
When: 8 p.m. April 2
Where: Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 2716 Broad Ave.
As written in the four Gospels, Jesus shares a meal with his 12 disciples and predicts the betrayal by one of them (Judas).
The story also foretells that Peter will deny knowing him three times.
The painting depicts the reactions of the disciples to Jesus' announcement, and the local dramatization stays true to the painting.
The stage is dark with a spotlight highlighting each disciple as he shares his feelings about the last meal and the inevitable betrayal by one of them. The disciples speak about their interactions with Jesus and how they came to know him.
The thought-provoking portrayal is a great way to start Holy Week, said Bob Muldoon, one of the original organizers of the play.
"It's a great lead-up to Easter," Muldoon said. "We have so many people tell us that each year they come, that all the disciples seem so real to them."
Muldoon has undertaken the difficult role of portraying Judas.
"I couldn't ask anybody else to be Judas," Muldoon said.
Although Muldoon plays Jesus' betrayer, he relates to his role, and thinks others will as well.
"It certainly cries out to me in terms of how do I feel. Any of us in our own lives might fit that image of betraying Jesus in anything we do or say," Muldoon said.
Dave Madden of Hollidaysburg can also relate to the character he plays: Matthew, the former tax collector turned evangelist.
Once a practitioner of one of the most reviled professions in Christ's time, Matthew changed his ways and decided to follow Christ.
"He changed his life and other people can change the way they are living too," Madden said. "They can live by his example. In some ways, it will pull people closer to God."
Madden also has been a part of the production since the beginning, and playing the part of Matthew has become part of his Easter tradition.
"After reading his lines and thinking about it, it just makes me start to prepare for Holy Week and help think about what the week's meaning is all about," he said.
Music and lighting play into the experience, said Bill Padamonsky, assistant director for the production.
Because Padamonsky is involved in Altoona Community Theatre, the group asked him to help with the behind-the-scenes details.
"They said we need someone to help us with lines, help us with expressions. How should we do this or that," Padamonsky said.
After being involved with the production for 12 years, Padamonsky still becomes emotional watching the performance. Because the script is based on the feelings of the apostles and the turmoil of that time, the performance seems to speak to the audience.
"The music and words are so moving and emotional. Anyone would find themselves very much a part of that scene," Padamonsky said. "If you want to have a very emotional experience to being Holy Week preparation, this would be something you would want to come and be a part of. The music is just beautiful and the music and lighting enhance the message we want to get across."