Curtis Easter Pageant to celebrate 50th year

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CURTIS -- A moving still life of the familiar events of Passion week, open to the public, will take the stage on at 3 p.m., Palm Sunday, March 28, at Medicine Valley High School, 303 Crook Avenue, Curtis. A free will offering will be accepted.

This is the 50th presentation of the Curtis Easter Pageant that first took the stage April 4, 1958, at the then University of Nebraska School of Agriculture under the direction of the Rev. Frank Hainey and Mrs. Anne Nicklas.

In 1961, the format changed to the current scenes of "living pictures," and narration was added to establish the mood and background of each scene and its accompanying choral numbers.

In 1971, a scene depicting Jesus with the children was added. A 65-member cast and a 50-member choir combine talents to stage 17 different scenes of motionless poses. The song "Kyrie," was written by David Cole when he was a student at Medicine Valley High School and in 1999 the song "How Could We Know?" written by the Rev. Shirley Carpenter, former pastor at the Curtis Methodist Church, was added to the production.

The crown of thorns used in the production comes from an original Crown of Thorns plant in Mexico. The helmet, chest plate and leather protector portion of the Roman Soldier uniforms were acquired from MGM Productions and were used in the movies Ben Hur, Julius Caesar and Quo Vadis. All scenes were constructed and painted by local artists.

The pageant has contributed to the reputation of the Curtis community as Nebraska's Easter City. In fact in 1981, then-governor Charles Thone signed legislation that designated Curtis as Nebraska's official "Easter City." And in 1997, three new metal crosses were erected to replace the wooden cross that had stood on a hill south of Curtis for many years. The center cross is illuminated each night during the Christmas and Easter seasons making it visible for many miles.

Along with the cast and choir members, the production is supported by a large and dedicated volunteer staff, including pageant director Kim Mortensen and choir director Steve Herman. The narrator is Rex Nelson and the pianist is Crystal Oberg.

Other support volunteers include: Marsha Gardner, children's costumes; Stacie Strawn, adult costumes; Denise Wilcox, wigs and headpieces; Rod Martens, Rod Anderson and Turena Ehlers, production properties; Jerrod Burke, lighting; Kevin Brown, sound; Kelly Sexson and Julia Nutt, stage coordinators; Dawn Tuller, publicity; Sandy Stencel, Brad Welch and Horticulture faculty from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, decorations; Kate Johnson, president, Brad Welch, treasurer and Kristy Roblee, secretary; pageant officers are also in charge of fundraising; Curtis Volunteer Fire Department and the Medicine Valley FFA, parking; Gary Fisher, Harvey Cole, Wayne Heathers, Medicine Valley FFA, Judd Lenz and Rusty Wills, ushers; and Roy Cole, Medicine Valley FCCLA Chapter, Mark Ehlers, Larry Elson, Billy Bryant, Roland Nutt, Erin Pascoe, Kirk Zysset, Grant Jorgensen, Ronnie Lenz, Casey Anderson, Bradon Ehlers, Aaron Meyers and many others, stage properties and assistants.

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