“Death of the Messiah” performances in Los Lunas and Belen

Makayla Grijalva | News-Bulletin photo
Jesus, portrayed by Frank Costa, is nailed to the cross while Louie Baca as Apostle John, Elayna Montoya as Mother Mary, Chelsy Kitcheyan observe His crucifixion. Maddy Costa plays the thief on the cross in the background.

 

Like Jesus on the third day, the annual Passion Play, “Death of the Messiah,” again brings the story of His crucifixion and resurrection after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is so rewarding. I felt so happy when things were getting better. I watch the news very carefully every week, every day hoping we would get there and praying that we would and we got there, and so I’m so relieved,” said Therese Hidalgo, director of Companions of Jesus Christ of New Mexico. “We were willing to perform with masks, but we’re happy we don’t have to. I think the whole community needs it.”

Hidalgo has been helping to put on the production since 2001, a year after it first came to the county, and has been directing it since 2003.

Companions of Jesus Christ of New Mexico, a non-denominational Christian theater troupe affiliated with a Jesus Company, has been performing a play chronicling the Passion of Christ for more than 20 years in Valencia County during the Easter season.

“When I’m … watching it from the back, I am in tears, still after all these years. They make me cry, they make my heart warm and everything.” Therese Hidalgo, director

 

Makayla Grijalva| News-Bulletin photo
Jesus presents his body and blood to his disciples during the Last Supper scene in the “Death of the Messiah.” Pictured, from left, are Dennis Mosoceda as Jude, Nick (Dennis) Nicolaus as Andrew, Robert Gallegos as Thomas, Miguel Hidalgo as Peter, Frank Costa as Jesus, Louie Baca as John, Jerry Bench as Matthew, Manuel Reyes as James; in front of table, from left, are Chris Hidalgo as Judas, and Connor Rice as Simon.

 

One of four different plays they perform, the group will take on “Death of the Messiah,” which takes the audience through the three days prior to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as told in the New Testament.

“We’ve performed three of them, but this is a favorite of the community, so we keep this version — ‘Death of the Messiah,’” Hidalgo said.

“Death of the Messiah” will be performed at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 9, at Grace Fellowship in Los Lunas, and on Good Friday, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday, April 15, at the Belen High School auditorium.

Admission is free to all shows, but donations will be collected following performances so the group can continue to put on the play.

“We’ve come a long way and it’s because of donations from people,” Hidalgo said. “We have to raise money for (costumes and sets). We also have to pay a lot of money for insurance, for all of the sites we are at. But, otherwise, we don’t charge for our plays, never have, it’s been our tradition. But we do solicit ads from out local businesses.”

Makayla Grijalva| News-Bulletin photo
Pictured, from left, Dennis Mosoceda as Schechem,; Gilbert Chavez as Alcimus, Nick (Dennis) Nicolaus as Jethro, and Robert Gallegos as Azariah portray the Pharisees during “Death of the Messiah” dress rehearsal.

 

Hidalgo said instead of large programs, featuring full advertisements from local businesses, Companions of Jesus Christ opted for smaller programs to save on printing costs and to denote contributors based on size of donation — gold, silver, bronze and in-kind sponsors.

She added this year they are also going to highlight the talent in the production, which has traditionally not been the case.

“We had never listed the cast members in the play  … but I feel our community wants to know their local talent here and the people who have given their time for so many years,” Hidalgo said. “They really want to see their names up there.”

Hidalgo said after two years of not being able to put on the production, the troupe is ready for an audience and to continue to share the Word.

“It’s a lot of work getting us there, but I look forward to watching them be their best,” Hidalgo said. “I want them to be their best and sometimes it seems like I’m hard on them, and they may think that, but it’s because I want them to look their best and perform their best. When I’m … watching it from the back, I am in tears, still after all these years. They make me cry, they make my heart warm and everything.”

 

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Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.