DOBSON — Salem Baptist Church in Dobson will present a free performance of “Bow the Knee,” a musical Easter drama, at 7 p.m. March 21 through 24.
This year’s performance is the fourth Easter drama produced by the church, and it continues to be one of the most popular Easter events in the county with more than 2,000 people attending the performances last year.
According to Dan Hornak, the director of the play and a member of the church, the play would not be possible without the contributions from the church’s members as well as the public interest for the production.
“We realized that people love the play; they see it, then they tell their friends and family about it and it spreads from there…because of that we added a fourth performance during the second year and we decided to perform each play for two years before we move on to the next one.” This will be the final year for the “Bow the Knee” play.
Hornak said that the play “is a true miracle” and even though he is the director he “gets a lot of help from above.”
Others involved in the play include Denise Carlisle, who serves as assistant director, and Pam Dollyhigh, in charge of costumes.
The process of preparing for the play began with separate rehearsals for the choir, actors and tech crew which took place for almost two months before the entire production came together for the first run through.
“People are so over-committed so it is sometimes hard to get them involved, but it amazes me how this play comes together and everyone is willing to help. I’m thrilled with the commitment and sacrifices people make to be a part of this,” said Hornak.
The people involved in the play range from 5 years old up to 80, according to Hornak. “Can you imagine being a little kid and performing in front of 800 people? It’s a great experience for them.”
Those involved did not go through the usual audition process of most theater productions. Instead, Hornak and the choir director discussed who they want to play each character, then they approached them. “The comment I heard the most when I approached them was, ‘I’ll pray on it,’” Hornak said with a laugh.
For the first Easter play, Hornak served as both actor and director. Since he had prior acting and directing experience, it was a perfect fit, but after trying to multi-task as both actor and director, he realized he only wanted to continue with the latter. “It is a big commitment, but I enjoy it…my wife is understanding; she says I’m just in ‘play mode.’”
“The church is very supportive of the play. We actually started planning before Christmas….I just asked for help and it happened. I needed a 15 foot tall cross [for the first production] and it was built — everything has just materialized.”
The role of Jesus is resurrected again this year by Mitch Stanley, who fittingly works as a carpenter with Stanley Homes. Hornak said “he’s the best Jesus you’ll ever see” besides the actual Jesus, of course. “Mitch is not a blue-eyed pretty boy, and he just transforms in the role,” said Hornak.
Bill Refvem is an orthopedic surgeon at Blue Ridge Bone and Joint Center. He plays Anthony, the Roman centurian. Refvem said he had no acting experience prior to his involvement in the Easter drama, only a little drama experience in high school.
Refvem became involved last year after Hornak approached him about playing the part of Anthony. He said the experience has been wonderful and “very well received” in the community.
Brandon Cook, English teacher at East Surry High School, plays Anthony’s servant, Eli. He has been attending Salem Baptist Church for the past six or seven years and described his church as having “great fellowship” and said he appreciated the way the pastor “stands by the Bible with no wavering.”
Cook said he also is involved in the “praise team” which is a group of musicians and singers who perform contemporary music during both worship services held each Sunday.
He decided to participate in the play because he said he believes “it represents a greater good” and feels it is an outreach to the community.
“It is bigger than what I am, what we are…it is a way to minister to people who would not come to Sunday morning services but they would attend a performance at night. They come and they get to see the story of Jesus, his death and resurrection, right in front of them, in action, instead of reading the story or hearing about it from someone else — it is very powerful.”
Cook echoed Hornak’s feelings that the play would not be possible without many people coming together to work for one goal — spreading the message of Jesus. “Anything I can do to spread his message, that is what I want.”
“A bunch of pillars hold this church up. The pastor is the leader, but we have many groups and individuals that make up the church — it’s pretty dynamic…it’s not just one person,” remarked Hornak.
Salem Baptist Church is located at 430 Rockford Road in Dobson. For more information about the church or the play, visit www.salembaptistdobson.org or call 374-4419.
Reach Jessica Johnson at email@example.com or at 719-1933.