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Must-see theatre is becoming the norm, especially around holidays such as Easter, at what many might consider a most unlikely place – Calvary Chapel of the Harbour located at Peter’s Landing in Huntington Beach.

After experiencing “A Christmas Carol” last December and now “Tragedy & Triumph,” at a dress rehearsal last Saturday, I can imagine that theatre-goers will surely come away (as I did after both musical plays) feeling challenged and inspired to reflect on their own lives.

In “Tragedy & Triumph” which opens today (Tuesday, March 22) at 7pm with more performances on Thursday and Friday at 7 pm, and Easter Sunday at noon, we are given a look into the lives of two men during the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The play follows the tormented Pontius Pilate and the truth-seeking Roman Centurion Maximus in an artistic interpretation that remains faithful to the Gospel. Particularly fascinating is that the torment in Pilate’s mind and even in the mind of Judas Iscariot, and sometimes others, is an actual character. Although “Spirit of Deception,” played by Brynn Wagner, is “invisible” to the two men and everyone else in the story, the audience definitely sees and hears SOD and the havoc she wreaks on men’s minds.

Kathleen Pedick, who has been creating and directing plays for several years at the church, said she wanted Spirit of Deception to represent the “negative influence” that can disrupt our lives and humankind since the beginning of time.

“’Spirit of Deception’ (as a person) is not in the Bible,” said, Pedick, who is lead pastor Joe Pedick’s wife. “But it (deception) is all over the Bible as far as the influence.” She said she created the character to bring a sort of tangible example of how people can listen to inner demons.

“Tragedy & Triumph” has an acting and stage crew of more than 50 volunteers from the church, including Glenn Ingerick, who plays Pontius Pilate, and Dray Wagner as the Roman Centurion Maximus. The play, offered for free admission, is described on its program as the story of “two lives at the very crossroads of human history.”

While Pilate takes the “politically correct” way, says Pedick, the Roman Centurion is influenced “slowly and softly” towards the Son of God. “One chose triumph and the other chose tragedy, both men having free will to choose.”

Judas at the well

Pedick, who loves period pieces in books and theatre, wrote three of the songs for the play. She said she wanted to take the true story and enhance it for theatre, dramatizing the characters to “make it a little different.”

When she was asked about what she’d like audiences to come away with, she said, “Choices, and that free will choice of salvation. They can choose Pontius Pilate’s road, be politically correct and do whatever everybody else is doing, or they can choose the hope of Christ, the risen Christ.”

She adds, “It was really important for me to have the character Pontius Pilate like almost schizophrenic in his speech. I think we accomplished that.

“I think Pontius Pilate came to a point where he did not want to hear [the truth of Jesus] and instead wanted to keep his position and remain popular with the people. I think a lot of people can identify with that today.”

Calvary Chapel of the Harbour is located at 16450 Pacific Coast Hwy, Suite 100, Huntington Beach, California. The church’s website url is ccoth.com. On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CCOTH/. Phone: (562) 592-1800.

Judas and high priest

Photos by Carlos Melgar
Top: Pontius Pilate, played by Glenn Ingerick, is tormented by ‘Spirit of Deception,’ portrayed by Brynn Wagner. Roman soldier Flavius, played by Craig Peterson, stands behind. ‘Tragedy & Triumph’ is running at Calvary Chapel of the Harbour this week.

Middle: Judas Iscariot (Andrew Gonzales) counts his money after betraying Jesus.

Bottom: Judas (Andrew Gonzales) and a High Priest (Ray Carvalho) have a moment.