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Talents combine for Easter Pageant

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TOGETHER NOW:Indiana Wesleyan Chorale director Dr. Todd Guy leads members of the Easter Pageant choir rehearsing in the Phillippe Performing Arts Center choir room Monday night.
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LIFT YOUR VOICE:Members of the Easter Pageant choir rehearse in the Phillippe Performing Arts Center choir room Monday night.

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

The biennial Easter Pageant is underway with preparations continuing at Indiana Wesleyan University.

The pageant is a culmination of work from with IWU students and the community to tell the story of Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday with the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem, and the crucifixion on Good Friday before celebrating the resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The Easter Pageant has been an ongoing tradition in Marion dating back to the 1930s. Circumstances throughout Marion’s history have cancelled the pageant in the past, holding it back for years. In the last decade, with the help of IWU, the pageant has been held every other year and received hundreds of volunteers in public support.

The pageant itself is a pantomime, meaning spoken word is replaced by gestures accompanied by music. The choir is made up of around 300 members while the cast consists of around 150 volunteers, all of which are from churches across the Marion community and beyond. Participants who recall being part of the pageant since they were young children commute to nightly rehearsals to give the community a show that tells the most important story in the Bible.

Perhaps the most notable tradition is that no one takes credit for their role, whether it be singing, acting or behind the scenes.

“That’s the most interesting aspect of it all that I’ve always appreciated – the anonymity,” one choir member said.

Choir members and cast members recalled their parents participating in the pageant. They imagined what roles some of the children involved now may have in the future.

“It’s quite an amazing sight, when all 150 people are on stage, some mothers with their young babies in all the proper clothing for that time period. It makes you think, ‘Wow, this must really be how it was,’” one cast member said.

IWU Chorale Director Todd Guy, who is also directing the choir for the pageant performance, emphasized to the choir during rehearsals the importance of singing with dynamic expression.

“Some people will be hearing this type of music for the first time,” Guy said to the choir. “When we sing it, we want to present it to them as if we are being moved by it for the first time as well. We don’t want it to be stale, the community deserves more than a stale cookie.”

Pageant Director Kathleen Lawson said the show is a time for all people in the community to gather together for this performance.

“Generations of people are involved in this pageant,” she said.

Lawson, a Marion native, has been involved in the pageant in some fashion for the last 30 years. She said she’s always amazed at how passionate residents are to be part of the Easter Pageant each year.

“Our community is always on the move. We’re living at such a fast pace, and this is an opportunity for us to take time for reflection,” she said.

The pageant will take place at the Grant County YMCA on March 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. Parking will be available across the downtown area with shuttles transporting viewers to the YMCA throughout the evening. The doors open an hour prior to the show, and tickets are available with a maximum of six per person. Tickets are free and available for pick up at the YMCA.