Panama City Passion Play Returns

Passion Play Preview
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 10:38 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - You’ll laugh, cry, and leave feeling loved. That’s how organizers describe the emotions of their Easter celebration in Lynn Haven this weekend.

Panama City Passion Play is returning for the first time since Hurricane Michael. For 15 seasons, the play was seen by more than 70,000 people. For the last 5 years, the play has been on hiatus, with organizers from the St. Andrews Baptist Church wondering where they could find a suitable venue for the production.

“Because Hurricane Michael smashed our Marina Civic Center, we kinda put this on pause waiting to see what would happen there,” said Doug White, Music Minister for St. Andrews Baptist Church. “And so, really not having a place to do that, here in town, we thought this is gonna be put on hold for quite a long time. It’s been a long wait, I think part of the excitement of the group that’s in it right now is the fact that it is coming back as a reunion - a revival - of the thing that used to happen.”

The Passion Play is now being held at Mosely High School’s Fine Arts Center in Lynn Haven. White says more than 200 people are involved in the production. The goal of the play is to share ministry with those who are already churchgoers, of course, those who aren’t as well. But despite all the serious scenes, performers say there are plenty of more lighthearted moments too.

“It’s fun in that we have humor, because, you know, Jesus gave us humor,” said performer Christy Lilly. “And we all love to laugh. But we also have moments of reflection, and also in a historical sense, telling the story - the true story - of Jesus.”

It’s also a chance for the church to come together, and for White to express his own creativity while helping others.

“I really enjoy helping people develop into a character on stage, as well as a singer, a musician, and then use their talents and their availability to tell and show the love of Christ,” White said.

The Panama City Passion Play returns Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 6:00 p.m. with a matinee Sunday at 3 pm. For more information, head to their website.