The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

April 25, 2013

Passion Play in Eureka Springs returns after woes

EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. — Organizers of the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs announced Thursday that its 2013 season will open with a May 3 performance, showing that it's overcome financial trouble that almost shut down the operation.

Last fall, the play sold off its camels, sheep, horses and other livestock and didn't even have the money to keep the floodlights on its iconic 7-story Christ of the Ozarks statue.

The play was rescued by an Oklahoma-based Christian broadcaster, who helped raise $75,000 over a 10-day span to keep the property from being foreclosed upon by Cornerstone Bank.

Once that obstacle was overcome, the play worked to raise the estimated $6 million needed to keep the operation going. The play's website says it costs $50 per day to feed the new animals and asks for donations for feed and other physical plant needs.

The play, which depicts Christ's last days and resurrection, is performed on a 550-foot stage at an amphitheater nestled in the Ozark Mountains.

The script and direction has been updated to give the play better flow, said play assistant executive director Kent Butler.

"The pacing of the play is much better and, overall, it is much more dramatic. After all, Jesus called them miracles; we have to call them special effects," Butler said.

The attraction was rescued with help from Randall Christy of The Gospel Station Network, based in Ada, Okla., who helped raise the $75,000 for a bank payment that was due late last year. A spokesman for the play didn't immediately return phone and email messages Thursday seeking comment about the group's progress in raising funds.

Also on the grounds are a Sacred Arts Museum and a Bible Museum, which is stocked with 6,000 Bibles, including an original 1611 King James Version.

The play is to run for 80 performances from May through the last weekend in October.




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