Christ Church has won one of Philadelphia’s theater awards, a Barrymore, for its creative collaboration with the Arden Theater in presenting Thornton Wilder’s play, “Our Town,” last spring. The awards ceremony took place October 6.
The Arden, which is near the church, staged acts one and three of the classic drama, but act two took place in Christ Church. The play ran from May 22 to June 22, 2008.
“We knew that by making Christ Church available as a theater, we would welcome 18,000 people into our church who might never come in. Not only did we want to participate with the dynamic work of the Arden Theater, our motives were evangelical. Since the production, we’ve seen many people in church who first came to an ‘Our Town’ performance,” said the Rev. Timothy Safford, rector. He added that he was “thrilled” that the church was honored along with a secular theater company.
The logistics were daunting, as a special stage and lights had to be rigged between liturgies and other church functions. For each performance, parishioners worked as ushers, organists and bell ringers, playing hymns on the 250 year-old bells to welcome theatergoers as they made the walk from the Arden.
Accepting the award for Christ Church at the black-tie gala was Cecilia Wagner, parish administrator, who coordinated the church’s efforts with the theater.
The Barrymore Awards are sponsored by the Theater Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.
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