Easter 2016: The Messiah I Know
I was planning to write this blog post very quickly after Easter, while all the memories were still fresh but alas, sickness finally caught up and forced me to take a break. I usually don’t like to talk about sickness because I for one, don’t fall sick easily.
I was already sick before the Easter weekend and have been kept up several nights in a row before and during showtimes with violent coughing. Before the final show on Sunday, I had 1 hour of sleep (call time was 6AM) due to the cough. I was more annoyed that I’m sick at such an important time than I was with actually being sick.
Okay, enough about me being sick. Onwards.
One of the most important experiences actually happened after the show.
This is how we ended – in prayer.
Photo credit: @intellingual
It was a custom to thank everyone for all the hard work after the final show.
And while the directors (we affectionately call them bosses), Sandy and Jaslynn, would thank everyone who had participated, some were given a bit more air time to share their experience throughout this short yet intense journey.
I had missed out a lot as I had to remove the cosmetic makeup on me first. I sat down, thoroughly exhausted, but my spirit wanted to speak so badly. After a short while, the bosses asked me to share a few words.
I struggled as I walked to the front to share… Because I was so moved in my spirit that I wanted to break down and cry; because I felt that I just wanted to remind people know how much they mean to God. I can’t recall everything I said because… well… I was pretty sick after the show. But this is what I do recall, in summary.
“You know it’s a God-dream when you want to run from it like Jonah in the Bible. I know I did when I first received a dream from God that I would be acting as Jesus.
Everything you’ve done for this production… all the hard work… all the sacrifices…. even if you were the smallest of roles… if there was 1 soul saved… it would all have been worth it.
Even if you didn’t have lines and all you did was to walk onto the stage and no one else off the stage can hear you… you are still important. Because without you there, something would be missing.
You are important. Every joint supplies.
Because 2,000 years ago, Jesus died for you. He died for me. This story isn’t about how good we are, but about how great He is. He went to the cross for you.
He chose the cross for you. Even if you feel like you are just another person in the billions of people on this Earth, He still died for you. He loves you that much.”
Photo credit: @DPYZ
After saying that, I remember wanting to just go back to the seat at the back of the room. But God’s presence was so strong and the bosses decided to say a prayer, so we joined hands, closed our eyes and prayed.
Personally, I could hardly hold back my own tears. In the quiet prayer moments, I felt like God was saying “Well done” for the work we’ve all put in for the show.
There was such a peace in the atmosphere. It’s hard to believe just outside our holding area doors were lots of enthusiastic, lively, screaming kids from children’s church.
By the time we were finished with the prayers and thanksgiving, service had already ended. So we all gave each other hugs, took some photos with each other before going down to the main hall to take a group collective photo.
The main cast went to meet Pastor Kong and Pastor Sun though for a short while.
Rehearsals and Prep work
Rehearsals were very short this year as Easter is on March instead of April… and we only started after the Chinese New Year celebrations. Initially, I had planned to eat less, exercise more to lose more weight and perhaps gain a bit more muscle but I couldn’t make it in time.
The best I could do was to maintain my weight and make sure I don’t gain any more. I really didn’t eat much during the festive new year celebrations because I knew we were short on time.
Though I wasn’t required to have a buff body, there was this picture of a Korean artiste who sculpted a seriously beefed out Jesus that I found.
One of our bosses jokingly asked me if I can do 30% of that. Haha.
George (one of the Pharisees) shared with me that during his visit to a well-known church overseas, one of the veteran professional actors who had to play as Jesus was actually called off the role because his body was too ripped!
So with that, I felt (somewhat) at ease.
One other thing I did was to have my legs waxed just 1 day before the full make up would come on.
Here’s a fun video I made that I mixed with the 40 Year Old Virgin.
This was necessary because of the makeup that would go on for the show.
If I didn’t wax my legs, I would be tearing off all the little pieces to remove the makeup – which I think would be a lot more painful and torturous.
Before the makeup goes on, I needed to have the mic taped to my spine which is a process that’ll take about 10 – 15 minutes to do as the sound crew needed to apply several layers of tape while I’m bent over.
After that, I’ll head on over to do the makeup.
The process is something like this…
1. Spraying of colour
2. Powder to fix
3. Getting me to lie down before applying loads of UHU glue
4. Hairdryers to dry the glue
7. Getting me up so they can create the scars on my back areas
8. Applying the glue
13. Finally, fixer spray
This process takes about an hour each time.
Lots of love goes out to all the lovely ladies (and you too, Bevan) from the Makeup Ministry who had to get their hands all sticky, messy and bloody to get the job done.
It’s a long tiring process for them. It was very cold for me since I was only in a loincloth so they made extra effort to get me heat packs to hold and to wrap my feet in towels.
One of the highlights of the show was the musical scene where the disciples are playing with different utensils in Martha’s home.
Originally, I was supposed to play some of the instruments as well and I would use this opportunity to showcase Jesus as someone who would have fun with His disciples but sadly, it was removed.
Lucas, who played Lazarus, worked very hard with Brannon and Rainft, who played John and James, to learn the body slam sequence. Jace, Jeremy and Daniel, the other disciples, also had to learn new and unfamiliar beats. I recall when we first heard the sequence, everyone was unsure because we only had a few days with Arthur and Tess (our trainers) to get the sequence down right.
But I knew that they would be able to get it down perfectly, there was no doubt in my mind.
Here’s a funny little thing to me.
I don’t think this was planned nor foreseen by Lingual, both the scriptwriter as well as Mary, nor anyone really… but when I first enter the scene I bring a little gift to Martha, played brilliantly by Shelia, a set of intricately carved wooden utensils.
During the musical scene, the disciples were actually using other wooden utensils to knock on the various wooden pieces.
Each of the wooden utensils have suffered greatly and most have seriously chipped and broken parts.
So I find it amusing that the gift was actually… utensils!
And it worked perfectly with her lines “Thank You Lord, it’s EXACTLY what I need”.
To prepare for the show, we also corporately fasted as a ministry.
And during showtime, we would keep each other in prayer so while others were done with their roles in the show, they would stand in prayer for us while the rest of us still had scenes to go.
Another memorable experience was when we came together during one of the earlier rehearsals to work with Mary’s song.
Photo credit: @tohtohchan
It was the first time we would be listening to it as a group and when we did, my gosh, we just started tearing. There was such an anointing in the song.
Even Gin, the dancer who would dance in place of Mary, shared that she cried while listening to it. I think it was during this time, that God reminded me that He sees me.
“How did You see / me by the street / when throngs of people stood between us / yet You walk right up to me / and showed me what it means / to believe, I believe in You.
I’ve never known / a lot like Yours / a love that lets me live so freely / and when all is said and done / You’re my Saviour and my song / I believe, I believe
I give my all to You / I place it all down at Your feet / my life belongs to You / Lord You mean everything to me / You are all I need / You are all I need / Lord I believe”
So the song became like the worship theme song for this show for some of us. Now that I think about it, a lot of the words I received during that time were the same words I used to share with the people at the end of the show.
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So thrilled and grateful to have an opportunity to collaborate with @chcdm of @chcsg on their latest Easter Musical Drama #themessiahiknow . I was overwhelmed with the news that hundreds of people are saved on their 3 services. Salute to their excellence and production details. Special thanks to @cassandra_yz @jaslynnkhoo @caroline_tjen @_mkcm_ for the friendship and trust … The best is yet to come! Please do check their performance with my original scores on youtube (link on my bio) Have a nice day all!! 😊🙏
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The script was going through constant changes, even to the day before the actual show, we were still improving the script. Veroy, who acted as Jared, had the most changes as not only his lines changed, his characterisation had to be modified even more.
Background photo credit: CHC Photography Ministry
After two shows, the first show being our best performance and the second one having some mistakes, we knew Sunday was our last and final chance to make it our best show yet.
In scene 4 where I was preaching to the audience on a stage placed in the middle of the audience, my lines were “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me. For I and the Father are one. And I’ve come to give life that you may have it in all of its abundance!”, I was actually looking at the audience and telling it to them.
And when I say “I am the door, if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved!”
I will look at one random/lucky audience and tell it to him/her. It’s funny because, more often than not, I would find cameras looking back instead of eyes.
After we were done with this scene, the next thing will be the resurrection of Lazarus. Followed by the scene where Mary pours out the heart in worship.
After I was done with this scene, it was time to prepare for the crucifixion scene.
This is actually the first time I’m doing “the walk” – last year, I was scourged on stage and then crucified.
Jason, one of our stage managers, would tag along to ensure that everything is running smoothly when I was transitioning from the previous scene. He actually took a short video while we were walking under the audience.
After that, I was drenched in blood to prepare for the scene.
Before the next scene, the makeup artistes would hurriedly apply blood onto my face and body. It’s always a challenge to make sure I look sufficiently bloodied before I go on.
After I was sufficiently bloodied, I quietly made my way out.
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A personal moment with Jesus. While covering an Easter drama production. I followed "Jesus" from backstage to the entrance of the spectator filled hall. While waiting for the current scene to complete its run. I saw "Jesus" praying in front of the cross. Seconds later he picked up the cross onto his shoulder and moved into the cued scene where the whipping starts. Pictured here is the moment that touched me deeply. ❤️ “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 NKJV #chcsg #chcdm #easter2016 #4thdimensionliving #chcphotogs #monochrome #mono #black #blackandwhite @asher_aw
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I needed to quickly reconnect back to God because the cold air and the cold blood just assaulted my body, shocking me out of character.
So while there still were a few precious seconds, I quickly turned to the cross that I had to carry… put my hands on it, closed my eyes and prayed.
“Father, do what we cannot do. Go deep. Deep into the hearts of Your people. Open up their hearts that they may receive & know that You died for them.”
Then I opened my eyes, carefully lifted the cross onto my shoulders and back… and waited for the music cue.
As the light changes and the music swells, I take heavy breaths.
The cross becomes a lot heavier now.
Background photo credit: CHC Photography Ministry
Ivan, the Roman soldier, would continuously mock while pushing me onwards to the cross.
Whipping and scourging me along the way.
Now, even though he hits the cross, the whip he uses still hits my body. The impact is real, I tell you.
Because Ivan is a strong fella. I told him to just go for it.
As I make my way to the cross, the whipping hits my body.
While Ivan aims for the body of the cross, because of the length of the whip, very often my body still gets struck by the whip.
And as I move my body, sometimes the cross doesn’t cover my back and I get whipped.
The whip actually broke a few times during the shows.
I cannot walk upright and the entire time, I must walk slowly through with half-bent legs, which makes my thighs quite sore.
As I’m being whipped along the way, the only thing I remember… is that I must get to the cross.
I fall several times along the way, but each time, I imagine Christ mustering up His strength to finish the journey.
So, I get up each time… mentally reminding myself of the pain and weight He bore for you and me as He made His way.
As the music swells to the climax of the song, I am already in position before the stairs.
Photo credit: @tohtohchan – This was during one of the rehearsals
With one final crack of the whip, I fall. At this time, Rainft who plays James will run up and try to cover me from further whipping.
But he’ll get whipped a few more times before the inevitable climax of the song where I will be nailed.
The soldiers quickly get rid of me and drag me up the stairs, they quickly throw me onto the cross, holding my hands into position.
And then, they drive the nails into my palms with each strike of the hammer.
In the first strike, I would cry out “Abba!”. This isn’t from the script and it’s something I brought over from last year, inspired by The Passion of the Christ.
After I have been nailed in with my hands and feet, I am then crowned with the crown of thorns.
Before I am finally lifted up. Crucified.
As the cross is being fixed, I slump down with the entirety of my body weight being supported by the nails and my now, very sore and tired thighs.
My arms are awkwardly stretched out in an uncomfortable position as breathing gets a little bit tougher.
I struggle with each breath, my lips and throat were dry with exhaustion.
I’m reminded again… that even though it was so very hard to breathe… Jesus still chose to love.
He still summoned up strength with each breath and prayed for forgiveness before committing His Spirit into God’s hands.
Then, I would get removed from the cross and taken off stage.
Background photo credit: @DPYZ
Once I’m down, I’m very quickly cleaned up by the Makeup team and needed to wear my costume immediately thanks to Louisa and Abigail because after the song, I needed to get back onto stage.
I get my makeup done and they apply the nail piercings into my hands.
By then, the song had already ended and I needed to get back.
There really was very really little time to settle all this, for 2 shows, we couldn’t get the nail piercing in time so I had to forcibly remove it just before I appeared to speak Jared.
While we finally managed to get the nail piercing done on the 3rd show, some of the blood got into my mic so my voice was very muffled.
I knew it immediately when I said my first word “Shalom”.
I tried to make up for it by speaking a little louder.
To me, I had lost a bit of effect here as I had intentionally used 2 different sounds for Jesus.
Before His death I would speak with a higher tone, after His resurrection I would speak with a deeper sound.
To make up for the muffled sound, I spoke louder… thereby losing the effect which I wanted in the sound. A pity, really.
Question and Answer
While writing the blog post, I asked if anyone had any questions they’ve got – so here, I’ll be answering them.
The 2nd highlight of Easter would be getting to work with all the volunteers in another amazing drama. What I really appreciate is people coming together to serve God.
We’re not working for ourselves, nor are we working to gain more exposure… sure, those are by products… but it’s not what we aim to do.
I always look forward to serving in Drama Ministry because of the amazing people I get to work with!
Actually, right now, I’m planning to restart my blog and to start sharing more business related work. I’ve been doing my own web business for a while, serving small business owners and entrepreneurs by setting up websites for them.
Have also been providing consultation advice to help convert their websites, etc.
I really just want to make full use of my blog because I’ve been asked if I would be willing to get back to writing, which I do.
Thanks for asking this question, Jeremy. Yes, it seems like I’ll be acting as Jesus for the foreseeable future.
One of the reasons why I made it a point to start writing my blog posts is to remind myself of the lessons I’ve learned for the character.
As actors, we should keep our own actor’s journal and my blogging, this is my way of keeping track of what I’ve done and my experiences of it.
Instead of thinking that I’ll know the character so well, it hinders my growth… I actually want to be able to “stack” the lessons into each performance.
I pray I’ll never be complacent with this role, it is an immense role and something that I’ll always be respectful of.
I would LOVE to be able to act other roles, actually. But when I received my vision that I would be Jesus, I knew that this meant it would be a sacrifice to consistently play the same character over and over again.
Honestly, I would really want to play other characters.
While during Easter, the main antagonistic roles are usually the Pharisees… I really would love to play a bad character.
I recall, many many years ago, I would practice an “insane laughter” because someday, I might play a character that needed it.
While I did not really play a character that allowed me to use a lot of insane laughter, my roles as Judas in 2014 and the demoniac in 2013 were sufficient for me.
Thankfully, most people don’t recognise me as the person who played Jesus. But there are some who do.
I am just another member of the church and while I try to live right by the character, I do believe God is still changing me and that He loves me too much to let me stay the same.
So while I’ve always been self-conscious in public, I’ve learned to just be myself, no matter what. To be honest with the way I feel and the way I portray myself.
So that’s all I’ll be writing for now. I actually still have a lot going on in my mind that I would want to chat about but I think most of it is already here. And I’ve delayed this post long enough.
Thank you so much for reading and if you have any further thoughts and questions, I would love to hear from you in the comments below. God bless!