HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Dec. 12, 2005

Local church offers modern version of Christmas story

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

A modern-day version of the Christmas story with local connections will be performed at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, at Elim Mission Church in Cokato.

Three years ago, Thom Clark and Jane Meyer of New Life Assembly of Cokato co-wrote a play titled “Stranded” that had never been performed until now.

This year, the church was looking for a play or musical to perform for Christmas and Clark suggested they use his play.

“Stranded” tells the Christmas story “with a little bit of humor” and takes place at a rustic inn in Bethlehem, Penn., where a family sees the Christmas story take place “right before their eyes,” according to Clark.

There are 25 to 30 cast and crew participating. Music for the performance includes a string trio and Christmas carols.

Helping direct the play is Bernelle Hansen of Cokato. “We want to have more plays like this in the future,” she said.

All the original characters come into play, “but in an unusual way,” Clark said.

For example, a highway patrol officer, with the last name Weisman, shows up at the inn and the innkeeper asks if he had two brothers in the car. He did, so the innkeeper said, “Oh, the three Weisman.”

This play will only take the cast and crew three weeks to prepare. “It’s short and to the point,” Clark said.

They are building their own set to “hopefully be used again in the future,” Hansen said.

Clark, originally from Tulsa, Okla., recently was informed that his former church will also be performing “Stranded” for its Christmas play this year after he had recommended it to them.

Clark and his wife moved to Cokato in to settle because his wife Mary has family here.

Hansen has experience in theatre production. She also worked in San Diego, CA. at Disney World and for the Traveling Christian Theatre Company.

“I enjoy using drama to present a message,” Hansen said.

She is now a teacher for MAWSECO at Cornerstone in Buffalo.

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