Photo: Members of the 60-voice choir during rehearsals of That Towering Cross

Well, it’s turning into quite the collaboration! I was pleased to learn that 60 people have joined the choir for the upcoming production of That Towering Cross which will premiere in Red Deer March 26 – 28, 2015. Music Director Annette Bradley told me that 60 was the cut off, because there was a limit to how many choir members could fit on stage at the venue!

When I was approached to write a play to go with music arranged by Kimberley Messer, I wanted to write the choir into the story as an integral part of the show, sort of like a living, moving set.  Like the music they bring to life, the choir helps to create the imaginative environment that Anna finds herself in. They move with the story and weave the narrative through movement and through song.

The Easter production’s choir will feature voices from some 20 churches in the Central Alberta region.  I’m grateful for the enthusiasm and creativity each person will bring!

Annette Bradley - That Towering Cross

Music Director Annette Bradley leads members of the choir in a rehearsal.

For me, That Towering Cross is a story about discovery and a different way to reflect on the greatest story ever told, one that has become tired and old to the play’s main character, Anna.

Anna is a young actress who is approaching a breakthrough point in her career.  She returns to her small hometown during the Easter vacation.  Despite her best efforts to avoid the small church where she grew up, she finds herself in the audience for the annual Easter production.  It’s a campy performance by a congregation that means well, but it doesn’t quite inspire Anna, who is used to the bright lights and standing ovations of performance art in the big city.

But the big city has uncovered some big problems in Anna’s life. And she’s looking for some much-needed answers.  Her view of the cross as a tired, old symbol seems only to be reinforced by the performance, though.   The script describes the cross used in the production Anna attends in this way:

The cross looks tired and dated, meant to impress, but failing: a crucifixion version of Charlie Brown’s pathetic Christmas tree.

After the performance, as Anna starts to walk away, alone in the audience and slightly embarrassed with herself for attending the show in the first place, her views are challenged.  And that’s where the story begins.   When she bumps into Joshua after the show, he dares her to imagine the story in a different way.

Cue the music.  That’s where the magic and imagination of the story kicks in.

Cast - That Towering Cross

Actors rehears a scene – a flashback to Anna’s past. (From L to R: Eric Anderson, June Rivers and Emily Nelson).

It’s nice to see the elements of the performance starting to fall into place.  The choir and the actors are well into rehearsal and will soon share the same time and space to begin weaving their different parts into one congruent theatrical piece.

If you’re in Red Deer at the end of March, please come and see the show!  Because of an incredibly generous donation from a sponsor, tickets (valued at $15 a pop) are completely free.  But you need a ticket to get into the show.

The event organizers have already told me they expect the shows to be full, so it’s worth getting them in advance.

You can get tickets by calling 403-343-1611 or at — Tickets can also be picked up at 53rd Street Music (4902 53 St, Red Deer) and Scott’s Parable in Gasoline Alley. 

Donations towards CAPCC’s special housing project will be accepted after the show, so be prepared to give to this great cause.  

That Towering Cross - Model

A four foot model of one of the set pieces built by Set Designer Mike Marten.