Thursday, December 20, 2012

REVIEW: “A Living Nativity” at Living Hope Church, a Live Journey Through Time

The reason for a “living” Nativity is, not only do human actors represent the main characters of the story but live animals are included. They consist of sheep, a mule, cows and even a camel (also a petting zoo for the kids). Pretty impressive and very much adds to the atmosphere of the proceedings.

The Three Wisemen or Kings bow before the Christ-child.
The depicted story should be very familiar to most Americans: Mary and Joseph are returning to Bethlehem for a census. Since there is no room for them at the Inn, they are forced to stay in a stable with animals. The baby Jesus is born there in a manager. A very bright star induces some shepherds to this place, as well as three Kings from the East, in which they all bow down and adore him, as the Savior that has been prophesied.

Shepherds adore the infant in the manger with Mary and Joseph.
There is very little interaction in dialogue among the cast (except for the sheep, who bleat in whenever they feel like it). The Mary does have a lovely singing voice. And a choir, bedecked with candles, underscores the events. There is an off-stage narrator (Mark Kelly) who outlines these proceedings from the New Testament. But the main Host for the evening is John Bishop, Senior Pastor. He intersperses the scenes with factual items from that period of time.

He also adds how these events and the teachings of Jesus are reflected in the modern world. The history, in particular, is quite interesting. And Pastor Bishop seems a very personable and approachable man and his easy, conversational style of speaking are very effective in this type of environment. As mentioned, the only editorial comments seem to come from the four-legged creatures that also inhabit the space.

Pastor John Bishop (who once pet a tiger) with Curly the Camel.
The set was effective and the lighting (designed by Gregory Zschomler and Roy Fisher) was quite good, especially with the strobe (lightning) effects at the beginning. The miking was clear and the costuming also effective. The live animals were definitely an asset, adding an authenticity to the production.

The only drawback for this reviewer was that there was no program. No way to give credit to the actors or director or crew. The show is about an hour long and definitely a family affair. This is the popular show's fourth year and the second at the City Campus. Weekend shows, especially Sunday (especially 11 a.m.) will be quite full. Go early for a good seat.

An angel choir sings against the starry night sky.
Remaining Dates and Times: Thursday, December 20, 7 p.m.; Friday, December 21,7 p.m.; Saturday, December 22, 6 p.m.; and Sunday, December 23, 9 a.m., 11 a.m. (deaf interpreted) and 1 p.m. Living Hope Church City Campus is located at 2711 NE Andresen Road, Vancouver, Wash. in the old K-Mart building.

My best to you and yours on this Blessed Celebration! “God Bless Us All, Every One!”

Visit for more information.

By Dennis Sparks, guest reviewer ( for Portland and Ashland area theatre reviews)
Photos and video provided.

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