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World's Largest Annual Outdoor Easter Pageant Draws Crowds Topping 150,000 During 10-Day Run.

MESA, Ariz. -- Mesa will once again be home to the world's largest annual outdoor Easter pageant as "Jesus the Christ," a dramatic musical production depicting the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is presented on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors' Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The pageant opens with a public-invited dress rehearsal on Wednesday, March 16, with an English-language performance at 7 p.m. and a Spanish-language performance at 8:30 p.m.

Spanish-language performances then run from March 17-19 (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). English-language performances are scheduled for the following week, March 22-26 (Tuesday-Saturday). These performances begin at 8 p.m.

For the first time in more than 20 years, the Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant will undergo significant changes. Though costumes are routinely updated and some members of the cast replaced each year, modifications for this year's pageant include changes to the script, a new soundtrack and a state-of-the-art sound system with additional high-tech speakers.

Nanci Wudel, pageant director, said surveys of past attendees indicated that some of the Biblical wording and deeper symbolism was difficult for some to understand and that changes could make the pageant text more audience-friendly.

"In making the changes, the focus will remain on Christ," said Wudel. "All changes are for the purpose of most effectively and even more powerfully communicating the life and mission of the Savior," she said.

Those previously attending the pageant will notice that certain scenes in both the English- and Spanish-language versions have been added this year while others have been deleted.

No detail has gone unnoticed, as even voices recorded for the Roman soldiers were spoken by Italian actors whose second language is English. A new, state-of-the-art soundtrack will replace the old one, used since the early 1980s. In addition, the costume committee has been hard at work since June of last year, making changes to several costumes, including all of the Apostles'.

With a new narration and an updated soundtrack, Wudel said people who have seen the pageant in the past will want to see it all over again to witness the changes for themselves. "It's very beautiful, particularly the new music. Beautiful and so powerful," said Wudel.

"As we've been working on our pre-production, many of us have commented on how it sounds like a new pageant," she said. "We're looking forward to sharing this message with everyone for the Easter season."

The pageant will be performed on the grounds of the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors' Center, which is located at 525 E. Main Street in Mesa. Parking is free and is available in adjoining parking lots or on neighboring streets. Wheelchair seating, signing for the hearing impaired, Spanish-language and English-language interpreters, and public restrooms are available. Ten thousand chairs are set up on the lawn area with open seating (no tickets required). Audience members may also bring blankets to sit on. Food is also permitted on the grounds. Guests are encouraged to anticipate cooler evenings and potential rain.

For more information about the Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant and for parking information, call the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitors' Center at 480-964-7164, or check online at www.easterpageant.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Mar 9, 2005
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