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‘Last Supper’ in South Deerfield

  • Duken Brown played Jesus in “The Last Supper to Gethsemane” put on by the Living Waters Assembly of God and Valley Life Church at the Frontier Regional School last week. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Duken Brown plays Jesus in The Last Supper to Gethsemane put on by the Living Waters Assembly of God and Valley Life Church at the Frontier Regional School on Thursday evening. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Duken Brown plays Jesus in The Last Supper to Gethsemane put on by the Living Waters Assembly of God and Valley Life Church at Frontier Regional School on Thursday evening. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



For the Gazette
Friday, April 01, 2016

DEERFIELD — Duken Brown freely admits he wasn’t trying to win a Tony award this week.

His only objectives were to fairly portray his Lord and Savior and to bring people closer to God.

Brown played the role of Jesus Christ in “The Last Supper to Gethsemane,” a production sponsored last Thursday by Valley Life Church and Living Waters Assembly of God. With faith serving as his coach, he and his friends commemorated Holy Week and told the story of Christ’s final days.

“I am He,” Brown said in arguably the most powerful line, delivered through a pair of narrators off to the side when temple guards came to the Garden of Gethsemane. They were there to arrest Christ after he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot.

Brown said one of his favorite parts of rehearsing since the end of January is all that he has learned about the Bible.

“I think what I’ve enjoyed the most is the camaraderie we’ve had while preparing for the play and just enjoying each others’ company and working together as a body of Christ to bring this to fruition,” he said hours before the performance. “Everyone is on the same page and we all want to do well for Christ. We’re thankful to be able to portray what Christ did that night.”

Wearing colorful tunics and headdresses, 12 people portraying Christ’s 12 disciples shared a stage with Brown in the Frontier Regional School auditorium. They stood by his side as Christ announced he would soon return to his Father and detailed how his earthly life would end.

The disciples questioned one another when Christ announced at the Last Supper that one of them would betray him and all joined him in the Garden of Gethsemane, where they fell asleep as Christ prayed near the olive trees. The stage and the area directly in front of it served as a fine setting, with small props, including vases and a basket of fruit. All dialogue was provided by Pastor Rafael Hernandez and Leigh Morrell, who sat at easels off stage left.

Donning a white robe, Brown used passionate hand gestures to articulate the words read aloud. He smoothly walked around the stage during his lines, engaging each of his disciples as he spoke to them.

The performance lasted an hour and was open to the public.

The audience of roughly 150 people watched intently and quietly, the only sound being the occasional discrete whisper in the back of the auditorium when the ushers welcomed arriving guests and handed them playbills. Easter Sunday, when Jesus Christ arose from the dead three days after being crucified on the cross, is considered the holiest day of the Christian calendar.

A group of musicians, hooked up to amplifiers, performed a few songs and some audience members sang along, lifting their hands in the air to welcome Christ into their hearts.

The Rev. David Levandusky, pastor of Living Waters Assembly of God and author of “The Last Ten Days of Jesus,” said he always wanted to present the “Last Supper” so people could feel what Christ and his followers went through that fateful night. The four gospel accounts from that afternoon until Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane were blended together for the performance that depicted, among other things, the final miracle Jesus performed. Jesus reattached a guard’s ear after it was sliced off by a disciple.

Peggy Belanger, who pastors at Valley Life Church with her husband Douglas, said performances like the one on Thursday help bring the Bible to life during Holy Week.

“I think that the Scriptures speak to our heart. They give us what Jesus was feeling and what the disciples were feeling, because it was a very confusing time,” she said before the show. “When we act it out it becomes more real. … Everybody’s having a lot of fun doing this and it helps it becomes more real for us.”