'A life-changing experience'

Published March 28, 2007

Adrian Brown remembers what Carolyn Plummer said 10 years ago when she asked him to be the centurion in a passion play.

"You're the perfect person to take this part," she said.

At 6 foot 1, Brown indeed seems right for the part as a Roman soldier who stood guard at the crucifixion of Jesus.

"It's been a life changing experience," said Brown, 73, who lives with his wife, Margarita, on Treasure Island. "It's a great way to prepare for Easter."

The play, People of the Passion, will be performed Thursday at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle.

Based on a book by Mary Betten, the play is a series of monologues by contemporaries of Jesus. There's the bride of Cana, at whose wedding Jesus performed his first miracle. There's also a teenage girl visiting Jerusalem for the first time who gets caught up in the horror of the crucifixion. She tries to keep her eyes and thoughts on her beautiful, new sandals, but Jesus' blood falls on her feet.

Other characters include Pontius Pilate's wife, a silversmith and a woodcutter, each telling how their encounters with Jesus changed their lives.

The production is understated.

There are no costumes.

Actors wear black, without adornments, except for Pilate's wife.

The focus is on their poignant words, and the steady, slow beat of the timpani further evokes solemnity.

"In each one of the cases of these individuals we are portraying, the whole idea is to provide a different picture of what was happening in Christ's time ... and the people that were following him and the people that were interlaced with him one way or another," said Brown, a former Honeywell project manager.

For Brown's character, the crucifixion starts out like any other. He gambles for Jesus' robe and wins it.

"Then he's really bugged by the fact that he's got this robe in his home," Brown says. "He can't eat and he can't sleep. He takes it back to Mary and has a complete change of heart."

Plummer, 45, has been directing the play ever since she introduced it at St. Jude's a decade ago.

Though the play has been offered for 10 years, it remains fresh, said Plummer, the co-owner of Our Town, a national company that welcomes people who have just moved to a new area. "I think it is because everybody involved truly has a passion about it. It's almost a calling, a mission now. Every year, the feedback is really incredible. ... People finally, in this one evening, finally believe that Jesus can relate to me, he did walk this earth that I'm walking on."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at (727) 892-2283 or moore@sptimes.com.

Holy Week and Easter events

First Christian Church of Seminole, 13272 Park Blvd. Easter sunrise service, 7 a.m., Redington Shores, public beach access, 18200 Gulf Blvd. Bring blankets and chairs.

Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church, 8505 113th St., Seminole. Palm Sunday, 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.; Maundy Thursday, 7 p.m., Communion service; Good Friday, noon to 3 p.m., prayer vigil; Easter, 8 a.m. sunrise service outdoors, and 10:30 a.m. indoors.

The St. Petersburg Dream Center, Easter service, 10:30 a.m., Lealman Community Park, 37th Street and 54th Avenue N, followed by egg hunt and cookout and food bags. Free.

Park Place Wesleyan Church, 4400 70th Ave. N, Pinellas Park. "The Night Before" series, 6 p.m. Saturday; Children's Easter party, 6 p.m., April 7.; Easter production, The Sacrifice... Greater Love Hath No Man, 6 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. April 2, 4 and 6. Free; Easter, breakfast, 8:45 to 9:45 a.m., free with time-stamped ticket from information center; Communion, 9 to 9:45 a.m.; blossom the cross, 9:45 a.m. to 10:10 a.m.; Easter service, 10:15 a.m.

First Church of the Brethren, 3651 71st St. N., St. Petersburg. Easter sunrise service, 7:30 a.m. A free breakfast and the Easter cantata, He Lives, will follow.

The Island Chapel, Tierra Verde, Easter sunrise service, 6:45 a.m., Fort De Soto Park, east beach. Bring blankets and chairs.

If you go

People of the Passion

Our Lady's Chapel, St. Jude's Cathedral, 5815 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg.

Play starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Doors open at 7 p.m. for prayer and reflection. Free.