Calvary Church Easter production ‘The Battle’ pits good versus evil

Chuck DeHoff of Camden portrays Jesus Christ in Calvary Church’s Easter production of “The Battle: Exposing The Darkness”. The annual Dover tradition started Wednesday night and continues tonight, Saturday and Sunday.  (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Chuck DeHoff of Camden portrays Jesus Christ in Calvary Church’s Easter production of “The Battle: Exposing The Darkness”. The annual Dover tradition started Wednesday night and continues tonight, Saturday and Sunday. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER –– With the arrival of Holy Week in the Christian faith, Calvary Church is presenting its annual Easter production; this year’s is entitled “The Battle: Exposing the Darkness.”

“We are telling the story of the Passion of Christ but we’re doing it with a twist,” said executive director Yasmin Walton. “We’re pulling back the curtain to look at a different dimension that shows Lucifer’s work to destroy Christ. But in the end, it shows that his actions have been playing into God’s plan all along.”

Although Calvary has been doing an Easter performance for more than 30 years, this original play was written in 2014 with Ms. Walton as a co-writer.

“Since we’ve been doing this version, we’ve heard people say it’s the best Easter performance they’ve seen. But since it is with a twist, we were a little worried at first but people seem to like it,” Ms. Walton said.

Idalis Stamas of Dover takes on the role of Lucifer in Calvary Church’s Easter production. It will be staged tonight, twice on Saturday and on Sunday at 10:30 a.m..

Idalis Stamas of Dover takes on the role of Lucifer in Calvary Church’s Easter production. It will be staged tonight, twice on Saturday and on Sunday at 10:30 a.m..

But the unique vision is what many of the actors love about this particular performance.

“The whole story of Lucifer isn’t something you usually see in a church play,” said Idalis Stamas of Dover who portrays Lucifer.

“It was a really different role than the ones that are usually available so I decided to try out and I really love how serious and deep the role is.”

Her character is constantly changing forms and tempting many biblical figures throughout the performance to turn their back on God –– even Jesus himself when he is left in the desert with no food or water.

“It’s the constant battle between good and evil that we show and people will make the connection that these are relevant concepts today too,” Ms. Walton said. “Not just in the first century when the play takes place.”

And it takes a small army to spread that message and convey the biblical account of Christ’s life, death and resurrection –– 89 cast and 30 crew members are needed for “The Battle.” Each actor dons handmade first-century attire and acts before elaborate sets that include fog, fire and artful lighting.

“It’s a full-fledged theatrical experience,” said Kevin Staniszewski of Dover. He’s playing Peter in the show. “It’s great to be acting with a purpose and to see the faces in the audience, because it’s so much more than what they were expecting from a church play.”

But it’s about more than just pulling off a great experience, it’s about teaching lessons in an approachable way.

“A lot of people really believe in communicating the word of Jesus Christ through the arts,” Ms. Walton said.

From left, Kyle Michaud, 11, of Camden portrays a young Jesus, Tom Lighthall of Magnolia is Joseph and Netanya Goldsberry portrays Mary in the Easter production of “The Battle: Exposing the Darkness” at Calvary Church in Dover.

From left, Kyle Michaud, 11, of Camden portrays a young Jesus, Tom Lighthall of Magnolia is Joseph and Netanya Goldsberry portrays Mary in the Easter production of “The Battle: Exposing the Darkness” at Calvary Church in Dover.

“There are some people who performed in high school, others who have done it before, and for some, it’s their first time being on stage. But everyone decided to get involved in this performance for the same reasons.”

For Chuck DeHoff, now in his 18th year playing Jesus in the Easter performance, he wants to make the story of Jesus’ life more

approachable to those who may not be familiar with it.

“Our shows, especially this version go through many familiar scenes for those who have read the Bible but we don’t go into each tiny detail,” he said.

“It does follow tradition and gives a broad overview in a fun and interesting way. It’s a good way for people to get to know Jesus for maybe the first time.”

His daughter Caitlyn Kuhn plays Mary and agreed that the play is a great introduction to Easter and even Christianity.

“It’s always been a part of me,” she said. “I’ve always known that Jesus has overcome the world for us and there’s no greater love than that. And this is an opportunity for others to learn that too.”

“It’s so rewarding to be involved because this may be some people’s first exposure to the story of Easter or maybe they’ve learned about Easter but it had never really resonated with them, but this could be the time they truly learn and understand,” Ms. Walton said.

“The Battle: Exposing the Darkness” started performances Wednesday and will continue tonight at 7, Saturday at 3 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Admission is free and the audience is encouraged to arrive early. There will be a nursery available for those with small children.

Calvary is at 1141 E. Lebanon Road –– the intersection of Del. 10 and South State Street in Dover. For questions or more information call 697-7776 or visit www.calvarydover.org.

Reggie Daniel, center, of Magnolia, as John The Baptist, rejoices upon the arrival of the savior Jesus Christ played by Chuck DeHoff of Camden in a scene from Calvary Church’s “The Battle: Exposing the Darkness.”

Reggie Daniel, center, of Magnolia, as John The Baptist, rejoices upon the arrival of the savior Jesus Christ played by Chuck DeHoff of Camden in a scene from Calvary Church’s “The Battle: Exposing the Darkness.”

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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