Along for the Journey

Feb.27-March 5, 2003
Along for the Journey
By Kristen Fox / SUN contributing writers
After months of rehearsals, the North Country Players will debut their presentation of the Stations of the Cross March 5 at 7 p.m. at Parish United Methodist Church in Parish.

About 75 young adults from Altmar-Parish-Williamstown and Camden Middle and High Schools comprise the three casts and crews that will be performing at 15 churches in Central New York throughout the Lenten season. The reenactment is in the form of a pantomime –– students journey through the trial and crucifixion of Jesus to the accompaniment of a narrator.

Cassandra Smith, of St. John’s Church in Camden, will play one of the weeping women. She said that she has been in some plays and musicals at school for fun, but it was important to her to participate in the Stations of the Cross reenactment because it represents one of the most significant and holy events to Catholics, the Passion of Christ.

“When Mr. Myer approached me about being in the play I really wanted to do it. I think that it’s good that I am in it because Jesus saved us from our sins. Our reenactment reminds everyone of the sacrifice He made for us,” Cassandra, 12, said.

She added that her involvement with the North Country Players is a good way for her to bond with her fellow cast members. “Going to rehearsals and performing in the plays is a lot of fun,” Cassandra remarked. “I like meeting other students who are also interested in plays and making friends with them.”

This year marks the fourth year of the North Country Players’ reenactment of the Stations of the Cross. Dick Myer, who both produces and directs the production along with Julie Guyette, said that while in previous years the students only did shows at St. John’s and St. Patrick’s Church in Williamstown, this year he wanted to bring the performance to a larger audience. He said that he was surprised by the great response he received.

“At first, when I sent out the information on the production to the different parishes, I didn’t hear back from most of them. And then, all of the sudden, we had 15 churches that signed up, wanting us to come. It will certainly be an extremely big task to try the production with 15 different churches, but I am confident that the students will do a great job,” Myer said.

The teenagers do all of the acting, with three separate casts doing five shows each. Along with the actors and actresses, there are students who do the “behind the scenes” work, such as lighting, costumes, props and sound.

Zak Woodard, of St. John’s, is one of the students who will be playing Jesus in the production. It will be his second year taking part in the performance. Last year he participated in it as part of his duties for confirmation class. He said that his involvement this year was something that he did on his own.

“Last year, our confirmation class was involved in the play. This year, I didn’t have to be in it, but I wanted to,” Zak, 16, said. “It lets me express myself and is a way to strengthen my faith.” Zak said that he is honored to play the role of Christ and really isn’t too nervous about having such an important part.

“I usually don’t get nervous when I perform. Christ is such a powerful role, though, so I am going to try hard to do a good job,” said Zak. Cassandra also said that she isn’t worried about performing in front of a large audience. “I don’t have any lines to memorize because the narrator reads the story, so I can’t really mess up,” joked Cassandra, whose older sister will be performing the role of Veronica.

There are about 25 adults who volunteer their time to assist the teenagers and chaperone the group as they travel to the different churches on the schedule, Myer noted. Volunteers also drive the buses that take the young adults to and from the performances. He said that he is grateful to everyone who helps to make the performances a success.

As a reward for the long hours students put in, following the performance on Palm Sunday they will be taken to see Jesus Christ Superstar. The money for tickets, said Myer, will be raised through free will offerings to be collected during each performance. Myer thinks that taking the teenagers to see a production similar to what they did will be a worthwhile experience. “It will be a great way to top off all their hard work,” Myer said.

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