The Living Last Supper

Christians frequently can paint Jesus’ first followers with broad brushstrokes that frame them as a bit too superhuman and untouchable.

So say a group of men from Columbus’ First Lutheran Church, where they hope a key scene of Christ’s life will spotlight the apostles’ human fears and foibles. The Living Last Supper drama, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s classic artwork, “The Last Supper,” will be presented for free at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the church, 3600 25th St.

The one-hour presentation hinges on the 12 disciples’ brief monologue reflections on Christ and his impact on them. While each character speaks, the figures behind him are frozen similar to da Vinci’s depiction at the table. First Lutheran member Dave Kromphardt organized the event after he and his wife saw it in done effectively while living in Illinois.

“It was very striking for each of us,” Kromphardt said.

First Lutheran’s performance, followed by communion, features Mary Lowney and Linda Pillar’s detailed, robe-and-sash costuming for a realistic touch matched to the artist’s creation. Balcony spotlights put each character center stage as they shed light on Christ.

Youth director Jimmy Collins sees the painting-come-to-life as a way to offer, well, a new picture of the earliest Christianity.

“I hope this can provide a way for the congregation to engage in the heart of the biblical story (of the Last Supper) in a deeper, more intimate fashion,” Collins said. “So often, we talk about this event as a collection of facts, but this gets into the different personalities of the disciples and their different takes on all of Jesus’ ministry — and not just that particular night.”

Collins portrays a multi-layered character often presented in movies and other works as over-the-top evil: Judas.

But Collins may change people’s perceptions of the man known as Jesus’ betrayer when he delivers to the audience one simple line: “My soul isn’t as black as some think it is. Nor is yours as white.”

Travis East is cast as Simon the Zealot, one of the more obscure followers.

“I think people will be moved by this,” East said. “But I myself previously had never given serious consideration to what might have gone through the heads of these guys.”

Steve Tam plays John, one of Jesus’ closest friends and one who organized the Passover meal.

“I’ve never before lived The Last Supper,” Tam said. “But I am living it now. And it is very enlightening to imagine what it must have been like in that room that night.

“I know I will never look at it the same way ever again.”

So an event meant to change its audience is first changing its cast.

“Funny how that happens,” Tam said. “Yeah — funny how that happens.”

When art comes to life

What: The Living Last Supper drama, an hour-long presentation interspersed with worship songs and finishing with communion

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: First Lutheran Church, 3600 25th St. in Columbus

Cost: Free, and open to all

Information: 812-372-1256

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.