michael kors crossbody The University of Mobile and Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala., will present "Mobile Passion Play" at the church at 7 p.m. April 11-13, 2014. This is an image from 2013. (Courtesy University of Mobile)

Whether he is singing in the Garden of Gethsemane or gasping for breath on the cross at Golgotha, actor Peter Lake wants to portray the truth.

The truth is not always pretty. The truth can be hard to hear, but it s beautiful, said Lake, who plays Jesus in the at Dauphin Way Baptist Church this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The 26-year-old actor and University of Mobile graduate said the role of a lifetime is also part of his personal faith journey. Every day, I sit down and I pray. I work inwardly to love people as I love myself, to live as the Bible taught me to live. That s what makes my performance an act of worship.

The Mobile Passion Play, a collaboration of the church and the university, is set for 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Tickets are free and can be obtained at the Center for Performing Arts in Martin Hall, Lifeway Bookstore in Mobile and Dauphin Way Baptist. Doors open at 6 p.m. for ticketholders and at 6:30 p.m. for non-ticketholders.

The story depicts the life of Christ as told by a pastor turned prisoner. It s set in a dystopian future where society is tightly controlled and Christianity is outlawed. The performance relates the story of Jesus from birth to resurrection using drama and music. It includes 375 singers, orchestral players and actors, and is directed by Mickey Henderson, Dauphin Way Baptist minister of music and worship.

In addition to the narration, scenes include the birth of Christ, and Jesus meeting the woman at the well, performing miracles, teaching the Sermon on the Mount and entering Jerusalem. There s also the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane, where Lake sings The Thought, written in 2012 by Greg Wiggins, who was an adjunct professor at the university. It s beautiful, powerful, heartbreaking, Lake said.

In the cross scene, he crouches on a wooden foot rest to replicate the hanging of the crucifixion, using nails hammered into the wood as hand rests. The idea is to portray intense pain for about 10 minutes, he said.

I ve done a lot of studying for the cross, he said, referring to the medical effects of crucifixion in Jesus day. A lot of it has to do with suffocation. After you ve been up there for several hours, the body is going numb and everything is shutting down.

At a rehearsal Monday, actors worked on technically difficult parts, including using a sheet to lower Lake from the cross and bringing him down a hill to where Mary cradles him in a Pieta moment. Then, they hoist him up again to carry him out of the sanctuary.

It s a physically rigorous and tricky moment, said Lake, who says he s 6 feet tall and of Irish stock.

One of the most touching songs in the play, he said, iswhich is sung by one of the two thieves. It s about a person plagued by their choices and their mistakes and how Christ is saying there at the very end bleeding, dying saying it s not too late, he said. Love wins by giving itself.

Lake -- who grew up overseas where his missionary parents planted churches -- is now working toward a master s degree in vocal performance at the University of Southern Mississippi. For me as a Christian, I know that in all art there is some element in it that s leading me toward my faith, he said.


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