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'The Lower Room' shows the passion of Jesus' female followers

From left to right: Cathy Seith, Janel Stover, Dot Reilley, Nancy Caldwell, Nora Correa, Jill Swenson and Brandi Kilgore portray the women in Jesus’ life and final days. (Staff Intern: Danielle Ryan)

From left to right: Cathy Seith, Janel Stover, Dot Reilley, Nancy Caldwell, Nora Correa, Jill Swenson and Brandi Kilgore portray the women in Jesus’ life and final days. (Staff Intern: Danielle Ryan)

Lionheart Theatre and Norcross Presbyterian Church will present “The Lower Room”, a passion play revolving around the women in Jesus’ life, from Wednesday through Saturday this week. The play explores the emotions and personalities of the women in the lower room of the house where Jesus’ disciples lived during his final days.

“(The play) is about the women that followed Jesus. It’s about how they followed him, but yet during that time period they weren’t given equal access. The women had to stay away and kind of be on the outskirts of it,” said Dot Reilley, who plays Maria, the owner of the house that the play takes place in. “This play gives all of the women a chance to talk to each other about feelings that they can’t say directly to Jesus or directly in public. In the privacy of someone’s home they can say what they want”

By taking the viewpoint of the women surrounding Jesus, the play offers a unique perspective into his final days. It also allows for a more feminist perspective.

James Beck, who portrays Judas, was particularly quiet during rehearsals and only had one thing to say.

“It’s all about the ladies,” he laughed.

The cast members all have a strong connection to the play and what it means to them. While some are members of Norcross Presbyterian, others are not and got involved through Lionheart Theatre instead. Regardless of how they discovered the play, each actor has a unique appreciation for the story.

“This is the third time I’ve done this,” said Jill Swenson, who plays Solome. “It’s just a very powerful and moving play.”

Nancy Caldwell, who portrays Mary, the mother of Jesus, believes that the play is really unique because of the emotion behind it.

“I think another interesting aspect though is there’s so much emotion and personalities brought into each one of these women. Obviously it’s not a part of the actual Bible but something she has more or less drawn together from the stories and how women would be at that particular time,” she said. “Each one of us is given very human emotions and some very deep feelings about what’s going on.”

Cathy Seith, who plays Mary Magdalene, believes that the play is perfect for families because of its human message and lack of a crucifixion scene.

“It’s a great family play, it’s a beautiful passion play about Jesus’ last days and the people who followed him. It’s a good play for the family, not violent or bloody. It’s not a crucifixion story,” she said. “It’s the story of why we follow Jesus, why the whole ministry of Jesus was started.”

The play will be performed at 7 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday. Tickets are $10 each and all proceeds go to fund the church and its ministries in the community. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit lionhearttheatre.org or call 770-448-7744.