NAMPA — It’s all about the message. Talk to any of the more than 1,000 people who present “No Greater Love: The Story of Amazing Grace” at Nampa’s First Church of the Nazarene and that becomes obvious immediately.
“The reason everybody gives up this time around Easter … is because the message is really at the core of who we are and what we believe,” Brooke Adamson, a “No Greater Love” acting veteran who this year plays the role of the deaf maiden Athena Vera, said.
“No Greater Love” is the powerful, passionate and moving story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ told in dramatic fashion through performance and song.
“It’s the message of God’s grace … not something we an earn, but something He has given to us as a gift,” Adamson said. “And we want to share that message of love and grace and let people know it doesn’t mater what we’ve done because He is always there, always.”
Adamson said the cast intentionally prays for people who will come to see the show each year.
“We pray very hard everyday for people who are going to sit in those seats to just clearly hear the message, to be open to listening and learn more about Christ. That’s really exciting for me,” Adamson said. “And we’ve seen how people have been changed.”
Brooke said that before “No Greater Love” began selling tickets in 1996, she was always amazed how people would come from hundreds of miles away, stand in line for hours just for a chance to see a performance.
“It was hard for us to turn people away when they couldn’t get in. Going to tickets was a great way to get people in and even now probably close to half of the audience each night is there for the first time.
“The most important thing is that we get to share the story of Christ and who He is in our lives,” Adamson said. “And most importantly, the message is sincere from all the people who plays these roles. We are there to tell everybody about our Savior and who He is and why it’s important to us.” She said that sincerity shows in every aspect of the production, from costumes to sets to the performers themselves.
“We try to make it more authentic to get people locked into the story … we want everybody to focus on the message.”
She said performing the play at Easter makes it even more meaningful.
“Doing it in this time frame when we are already reflecting on what we believe, that Christ died for us and was raised again, is special.”
Like so many participants, Adamson carries on a family tradition that spans all of the 31 years that “No Greater Love” has been presented. Her father, Canyon County commissioner David Ferdinand, played the wimpy Roman Marcelus Sejanus for more than 10 years and has continued his involvement off-stage in a number of roles. Adamson’s husband, Eric, has orchestrated some of the new music for the musical and is first trumpet in the orchestra.
Adamson’s own involvement in “No Greater Love” began at a young age.
“I was involved for about 20 years, first as a little kid in a scene where we came running onto the stage chasing the disciples,” she said. As a teenager, she played a girl in the courtyard and was an extra before ascending to the principal role of the slave girl, Naomi.
“I played Naomi for 12 years in high school, college and after,” she said.
As Naomi, Adamson shared the stage with her father for two years.
“That was really fun because I knew how much he enjoyed it and how much he loved to share the message that ‘No Greater Love’ shares with people.”
After taking a sabbatical from the play, Adamson returns this year in the role of Athena, a deaf woman who encounters Jesus Christ.
Adamson said the role is “a challenge,” in part because it requires her to use sign language.
“I’ve signed for a number of years, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself fluent,” she said. Adamson was taught to sign by the woman who has played the role for the past 17 years, Stacy Holton.
“Signing is a lot more than just using your hands to say the words. It’s a lot about expression of your body and face to help people understand what you’re saying,” Adamson said.
Brooke noted that lots of signs have more than one meaning, so it is important to learn to send the message through expressiveness.
“This role is really important … to be the one to send that message to people who can’t hear.”
Along with Adamson’s return to the cast of “No Greater Love,” there are some other new faces in the cast this year. Doran Ritchey appears as the Apostle John and Deanna Kinsman plays the haughty Octavia, wife of Marcelus.
If you go
What: ‘No Greater Love: The Story of Amazing Grace’
When: 7 p.m. March 31 to April 4 (doors open 6:30 p.m.)
Where: Nampa First Church of the Nazarene, 601 16th Ave. South, Nampa
Tickets: $4 at all Select-A-Seat outlets