2008: Easter musical by Irvine Mormons leaves out Jesus Christ’s face / Orange County Register

See the original at the Orange County Register at this link.

Thanks much,
Steve St.Clair
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‘Savior of the World,’ now at the Irvine stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has a cast of 190 Mormons – but the story’s title character is out of sight.

There are 190 cast members listed in the program for the Irvine production of the Mormon-made musical, “Savior of the World,” but the identity of Jesus Christ remains a mystery.

“Everyone’s vision of Jesus is a little different,” said co-director Linda Simmons, explaining the omission following Wednesday night’s opening performance.

Split into two acts, “Savior of the World” recounts only the bookends of the Christ story: his modest birth and his surreal rebirth. At no point in the 2 1/2-hour performance does the audience get a full flash of the protagonist’s face, shrouded during the second act by the hood of an ashen robe.

Mark Mortensen, who plays the sagacious disciple Peter, said the portrayal taps into a truth forgotten by many contemporary Christians. “You believe because of what you feel, not because of what you see,” he said.

And when warm halogen and ellipsoidal spotlights cascade over the resurrected Christ and the actor’s velvety voice rises, audience members seated in the first few rows can certainly feel it.

“We wanted to create an immersive experience,” said Simmons, who brings to bear experience as a commercial director for Disney and Mattel.

Unlike past productions of “Savior of the World,” Irvine’s is “in the round,” meaning that the audience surrounds the stage. Standing on three separate balconies that line the theater’s perimeter, more than 100 Church members compose an ethereal “angel chorus.”

In addition to the elaborate set and setting, Simmons scented the theater with frankincense, myrrh, cedar and pine. “The smells of Jerusalem,” she said.

Both the cast and crew worked pro bono. If not for that, Simmons said, “Savior of the World” would’ve been a $500,000 production.

This was an “exercise in loaves and fishes,” she added, alluding to the biblical story in which Christ multiplies food for the starving masses. Exactly where all the motivated talent came from, she said, is an open question.

For tickets, visit http://www.irvineproductions.com/

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