The Christians opened at Rosebud Theatre on Friday, Sept. 22. The drama features a Pastor of a large, popular mega-church who realizes his beliefs have greatly changed from what he's been preaching. The story then examines how this change affects the Pastor and members of his church.
The Christians stars veteran Rosebud Theatre actor David Snider in the role of the Pastor and Rosebud School of the Arts Fellows Jordan Cutbill and Heather Pattengale as the Associate Pastor and the Pastor's wife.
Although not a musical, singing performances are an important part of this play. The three Worship Team Members, played by Cassandra Garbutt, Stephanie Lanting and Caitlyn O'Connor, are all students from the Rosebud School of the Arts.
"Sound is a big part of the show," said Snider, after the show.
The small, ensemble cast is rounded out with Judith Buchan, who plays an Elder.
The play was written by Lucas Hnath. Director Morris Ertman was happy to have snagged the rights to Hnath's latest play, which is based in New York.
"They're comparing [Hnath] to Sam Shepard, they're comparing him to all the great writers and saying, 'he's the next great'"
Snider revealed that the rehearsal time is extremely concentrated, which allows the actors time to immerse themselves in their roles and focus on their performances.
"Our total rehearsal, first read to opening night, is a little less than four weeks. So, we are pretty much with each other and in rehearsal 40 to 45 hours a week. The last week of rehearsal is more like 50 hours."
After the show, spectators were invited to a talkback where they could interact with the actors and discuss the play's message.
"A lot of times you'll go and see a show and just want to talk about it," explained Cutbill. "I really like that this [play] has the built-in talkback, to make that more accessible."
Both actors said they don't let feedback from the talkbacks influence their performances, in order to remain true to the story and to Ertman's direction. However, that doesn't mean the actors don't learn from the talkbacks.
"There was one person in one of our previews who was talking about how universal the struggle between the characters is, and how it can be applied to a corporate situation just as easily," admitted Cutbill. "That had never occurred to me, that talking about leadership and how leadership should be handled and the universal truth of a really big story."
Despite the play's name, Snider said any theatregoer, whether religious or not, would enjoy this fantastic show.
"We really are eager for people to experience this amazing play. Whether they're from a church background or not, it's a compelling, dramatic story about how we are faced with relationships being more important than ideas."
The Christians runs at Rosebud Theatre from Sept. 22 until Oct. 28.