About the play
The Easter Triumph is an 80-minute passion play performed by 150 cast members from the Austin area. The play is an outreach, and the committee purposely selects venues outside of church settings to encourage the entire community to attend.
The play is scripture-based and not intended to promote any particular denomination. The pageant itself is sponsored by the Austin-area Lutheran Churches-Missouri Synod. Cast members, however, come from all Christian denominations, from Catholic to Methodist to Baptist.
The Easter Triumph is non-profit, and there is no admission charge to attend the performance. Production costs are paid through a free-will offering and memorial donations made to the pageant.
The pageant is guided by a Board of Directors made up of former and current cast members who donate their time and talents to the service of God. You may contact the board or the pageant director by clicking on “Contact” on the Home page.
Many churches within an hour or two of the Austin area arrange for church vans or buses to bring large numbers of members attend the performance. The board is careful to select venues where there will be enough seating.
About the Cast
All cast and crew members are volunteers. Casting for the primary roles in the Easter Triumph begins in January or February each year.
Primary role casting is at the sole discretion of the director. No auditions are held, but new cast members who wish to take on a role must contact the director.
Rehearsals begin about three weeks prior to the performance and costumes are provided.
There are about 60 individual roles to be cast, from involved roles like Disciples, Pilate, and Mary the Mother, to smaller roles for angels, soldiers, priests, and various members of Christ’s early fellowship.
Jesus is cast well in advance, and the 12 disciples are usually chosen by February. Other roles are filled in as rehearsals progress.
Approximately 100 people are needed for the crowd scenes to celebrate His arrival on Palm Sunday, to march in and lead a mob to arrest Him, witnessing His death, and rejoicing in His ascension.
Several children will have important roles as Pilate’s servants, heralds to announce Jesus’ arrival, and in a wonderful scene in the end when every child who can toddle or run to Jesus, will assist in the triumphant finish. There is no better way to get a small child to understand the story of Easter than to have them act it out.
The crowd is an important part of the pageant as well playing a key role in the mood of the production.
There are no qualifications to be a member of the cast other than attending rehearsals and having a love of God. Spoken parts are narrated so there are no lines to learn.
It is helpful, but not required, for men wishing to participate in primary roles such as a priest, Pilate, or disciples to grow a beard.
In addition to those on stage, the pageant always needs crew members from light and sound techs, to backstage personnel and entire families are encouraged to participate even if some prefer behind-the-scenes roles.
on portraying Jesus
Ask any of the actors who have portrayed Jesus to describe the experience, and you will hear words such as “awe,” “appreciation,” “understanding,” and “fear.” The role in itself is awesome, and to play it is, according to fellow cast members, to define the intensity of the entire pageant.
Although most ordinary men feel somewhat unworthy of the role of Jesus Christ, their work in making the story of his death and resurrection become real to the cast and audience is what makes the Easter Triumph the moving and inspirational pageant it has become.
In 1959 the Easter Triumph pageant became the first staged play at the newly built Palmer Auditorium. The original script, written and directed by Pastor Robert Clausen in 1952 in Indianapolis, Indiana, has been adapted over the decades for the growing cast and more complex production.
To continue this long tradition on such a large scale with only volunteer cast members and donations was no small task. The annual budget of the production has grown from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Because the pageant has always been considered a gift to the city of Austin from the cast and crew, there has never been an admission charge. The pageant is paid for primarily through gifts from the Lutheran Churches Missouri Synod in Austin and through gifts given by the audience in appreciation for this moving production.
Cast members will tell you that the pageant has had its share of glory and mishaps in its long history. Most everyone in the pageant in the ’70s remembers when the curtain opened while Jesus was still climbing up on the cross for the crucifixion scene. One year a thief fell off
his cross, and although several cast members rushed to his aid, he was unharmed. In the early ’80s, when the pageant was only held at 6 a.m. on Easter morning, the radio warned of a terrible storm and urged everyone to stay home. Although the rain poured down and the cast feared no one would show, God answered their prayers and over 1,000 people attended the pageant anyway. By the end of the performance, the sun was shining.
One of the moments many cast members remember with awe is the first time the actor portraying Jesus ascended into the sky courtesy of the mechanical lift and a cloud machine. This scene is the overwhelming favorite of the audiences and cast as well being the moment that Jesus joins His Father in heaven. Those who witness this triumphant end to the pageant all feel as though they are there.
Board of Directors
Don Becker – Co-President
Tracey Gouraud – Co-President
Merrilee Walker – Secretary
Patricia Woodley – Publicist/Member
Martin Danner – Pastoral Advisor
Don Arldt – Director
Linda Becker – Treasurer
Sarah Dart – Webmaster
Want to be a part of telling the greatest story? Or simply want to help out in another way? Submit this form to help out with the upcoming play.
P.O. Box 9992
Austin, TX 78766