Great Passion Play officials seek more passion

by The City Wire staff ( 4 views 

The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs could soon close, ending a unique outdoor theatre production of Jesus’ last days. The production has been seen by some 7.5 million since 1967.

Along with the iconic Christ of the Ozarks Statue, the Passion Play faces “declining numbers and difficult times,” according to a statement from Keith Butler, chairman of the board of directors that oversees the operation.

“The Great Passion Play offers a unique and affordable opportunity for visitors to experience the events in the last week of Christ’s life performed by over 150 actors and live animals,” noted a statement from Butler sent by Little Rock-based public relations firms CJRW. “However, the opportunity for people to witness the Scriptures come alive first-hand is under threat. These difficult economic times have led to declining attendance. Under the strain of rising costs and a tight budget, The Great Passion Play needs help.”

Produced by the Elna M. Smith Foundation, The Great Passion Play “serves as a spiritual center for Christians worldwide and is home to the Christ of the Ozarks Statue (7-stories tall), the Parables from the Potter, the interactive Living Bible Tour, the Sacred Arts Exhibit, the world-renowned Bible Museum (over 6,000 Bibles in 625 languages including a page from the Gutenberg Bible), David the Shepherd, the Top of the Mountain Dinner Theater, and gift shops,” according to the CJRW statement.

Sam Ray, executive director of The Great Passion Play, said the event would benefit from donations including functional used vehicles, up-to-date computers, LCD monitors, software, office supplies, lumber, gravel, and other material goods. However, he said the greatest need is for money.

“The Great Passion Play has encouraged millions of people in their faith,” Butler noted in the statement. “But many more people need to be touched by ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told.’  In order to have a 2013 season, we need people to either ‘Give or Come’ now.”

There are 24 performances remaining for the 2012 season on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. beginning Tuesday, September 25 through Saturday, October 27.

“The Great Passion Play is a significant part of Christian Culture,” said Butler. “Now we are making a heartfelt plea to businesses, organizations, partners and the general public to help us keep this long-standing tradition running so it may continue to be a blessing for generations to come.”

The Great Passion Play is a 501 C-3 nonprofit organization with an independent board of directors.  All donations and contributions are tax deductible.