Play accents parts of Eucharistic liturgy
After successful shows in parish, musical will be featured at Congress
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
Agape, a production by Resurrection Parish of Green Bay, takes the stage at 7:10 p.m. on
Saturday, Oct. 14 in the Walter Theatre, at St. Norbert College, De Pere. The musical
presentation is part of the 2000 Eucharistic Congress.
Agape, written by Marty Haugen, is a performance work inspired by the "agape feasts" of
the early Christian church. Scholars believe these agape--love feasts or community
meals--were tied into the celebration of the Eucharist in the early church. The musical
chronicles the lives and work of four modern day followers of Jesus--Chief Seattle, Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr., Abp. Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day--who worked for justice
for all people.
"It's based on the structure of the Mass, but it takes these little side trips inside their lives
and how they served God because of their faith," explained Lyle Becker, director of
The musical includes soloists, instrumentalists and audience participation. It represents
the work of approximately 120 parish members in various roles. More than 1,000 people
saw the musical during its Sept. 7-10 run at the church.
"It's amazing how well Agape fits in with the Eucharistic Congress and with the themes
of Renew," said Michele Becker, Lyle's wife and musical director of Agape. "The Holy
Spirit was really guiding us in tying things together."
The production appeals to a broad audience.
Lyle invited a co-worker of a different faith to a performance and expressed concerns
that it contained such strong Catholic elements that his guest would not experience its
When Lyle asked the co-worker for feedback, he replied, "All I saw was God."
Resurrection Parish has presented drama ministry for the past three years. Before Agape,
the parish performed The Song of Mark.
"When we first started this, we said that this isn't going to be just another cutesy little
church musical," said Lyle. "We wanted to do a show of the quality you would expect if
you went to a theatre production."
The entire cast and crew rehearsed together only nine times before opening night. All
performers had rehearsal tapes to use for practicing on their own.
"You accept a lot of imperfections because of the lack of time," said Michele. "There
were several times where I thought if we only had one or two more rehearsals we could
"They all make up for it in spirit and enthusiasm," said Lyle.
Agape also features slides to accompany songs. The audience has the opportunity to sing
"You join the choir when you walk through the door," said Lyle.
"I describe it as full, conscious and active participation," said Michele.
The musical production also served as an educational tool especially for the younger cast
and crew members. At each rehearsal the cast was taught about the life of one of the faith
leaders showcased in Agape.
Requests to bring Agape to other parishes were common after performances. Lyle
encourages other parishes to explore drama ministry.
"You too can do it," he said. "We brought all our talents together, did the best we can,
and this is the result."
"The performing arts have a way of touching you deeply," said Michele. "It is such a joy
to see someone go from A to Z in their development. They work so hard and conquer
their nerves to do a wonderful job."
Agape has had a lasting effect on the cast and crew and hopefully will have a lasting
effect on the audience, said the Beckers.
"It has brought us together as a community," said Lyle. "It creates a big family."
"If you ever found Mass boring, you never will again after seeing this production," said
Michele. "You will see liturgy differently."