A “Living Last Supper”

  • The cast of “The Living Last Supper”€ rehearses at the Athol-Orange Baptist Church on Saturday in Athol. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • The cast of “The Living Last Supper”€ on March 25 rehearses at the Athol-Orange Baptist Church in Athol. It will be performed at 7:30 p.m. at the church on March 27, 29 and 30. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Dave LaRue rehearses his monologue as Thaddaeus for the performance of “The Living Last Supper,” at the Athol-Orange Baptist Church, on Saturday, Mar. 25, 2018 in Athol. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • The Athol-Orange Baptist Church, on Saturday, Mar. 25, 2018 in Athol. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • The Athol-Orange Baptist Church, on Saturday, Mar. 25, 2018 in Athol. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 3/26/2018 10:55:39 PM

ATHOL — In preparation for one of spring’s biggest holidays, the Athol-Orange Baptist Church held their final dress rehearsal before their 21st yearly performance of The Last Supper.

“The Living Last Supper,” based upon Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting of a similar name, will be performed promptly at 7:30 p.m. at the church March 27, 29, and 30. Admission is free and attendees are welcome to bring friends.

According to Elder Jim Lake, the co-director, the original reenactment began with a pastor in the 1950s who wanted to model the performance after da Vinci’s painting.

In the church’s performance, each of the disciples stand and deliver a monologue. At the end, each disciple asks the congregation whether they are the betrayer of Jesus. As Christian doctrine goes, Judas ends up being the betrayer.

The performance isn’t new to Lake, who has experience directing Last Supper performances in two other churches.

“This (performance) was created to be an evangelical outreach to our community about the love of Jesus,” he said. “It’s really kind of neat to hold it just before Easter.”

As the story goes in the Gospel of Matthew, the supper took place on the first day of Passover. Twelve of Jesus’ disciples partook in a dinner with him as Jesus explained that one of his disciples would soon betray him.

After Jesus prayed over the meal, he broke the bread and shared the wine with the disciples — thus creating the Christian tradition of Communion.

In previous years, Lake said, attendees have come from across New England to see the performance. He expects 400 to 600 people to attend over the three dates this year.

Fifteen actors from the church are participating in the play: Mary, Martha, Jesus, and the 12 disciples. However, many more are involved with makeup, stage props, background, sound, lighting, and more. Lake estimates around 40 parishioners are involved with the production of the reenactment this year.

“It’s changed dramatically over the years,” Lake said, explaining that language and music have been updated over the years to keep up with the times. “It’s been a really neat adventure.”

The performance has carried on long enough to see three generations participate. Stephen Raymond, also an Athol Selectboard member, now co-directs the reenactment while his son Roland plays Peter, and his grandson James plays John.

“For religious people, (the performance) is encouragement,” Lake said. “For whose who are trying to connect, it’s a great opportunity to hear a message.”

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