Briercrest production revisiting the first Christmas

Austin M.
Austin M. Davis
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Actors in Briercrest's production of Love's Pilgrimage participated in a dress rehearsal. The musical runs from Nov. 29 until Dec. 1 with four shows.

“When you think of the pilgrimaging and then waiting, then Jesus shows up and I think that’s where the love side shows up.”

De Jager, who is also an associate professor of music and voice at Briercrest, said he thinks a lot of the circumstances surrounding the biblical account of the birth of Jesus Christ were about searching and waiting for something better to come.

“All the people are pilgrimaging towards Bethlehem because they have to go for a census,” de Jager said.

Love’s Pilgrimage runs from Nov. 29 until Dec. 1. There will be one show on Friday night, two shows on Saturday and a matinee on Sunday.

The musical is an adaptation of the first Christmas with an original script de Jager started collaborating on with Andre Harden. De Jager eventually just hired Harden to write the story. There will be plenty of well-known Christmas songs included in Love’s Pilgrimage, but there will also be original compositions by Ken Dosso.

De Jager said there are nearly 200 students and alumni involved in all aspects of the production.

“It’s a wonderful educational opportunity for our students to perform for an audience this large,” de Jager said. “For me, to work with them, I just think I have a great job because I enjoy teaching, but it’s really been quite enjoyable. It’s been amazing how everybody here has pitched in to help.”

That included set construction and helping with makeup and costumes, but de Jager said Briercrest has some talented singers and actors.

It’s a difficult story to tell. While the theme is held together by the birth of Jesus and others mentioned in the biblical tale, Love’s Pilgrimage is a creative adaptation that addresses issues facing people of that time.

“It does it from the perspective of a lady named Anna who actually was married when she was quite young but her and her husband only lived together for seven years. Then he passed away,” de Jager said. “So she waited around for the messiah. It’s the story of her waiting.”

Obviously the story of Mary and Joseph is still one of the most fascinating of all time. De Jager said examining that society’s treatment of Mary — who had the unfortunate task of trying to explain why she was pregnant out of wedlock — could reveal much about our own society.

 “In those days they actually would’ve stoned her,” de Jager said.

“I think what’s neat about the story and how people can relate to it, is just that people have had other people not treat them the best before, or have been misunderstood.”

Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for children 12 and under.

Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX.

Geographic location: Bethlehem

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