Sewickley Hills woman marks end of passion play
Linda Wallace said she hesitated after she first considered retiring from directing productions of “Why Must He Die?” — the music-filled Easter passion play she wrote about 28 years ago.
The director of the TriCounty Choir Institute said she promised God in 2009 that she would continue the plays at area churches if he would cure her of breast cancer.
When she said her prayers were answered, the Sewickley Hills woman continued the tradition, even while she was recovering.
“But there are many, many pressures in presenting it, producing and directing it, and it has become overwhelming,” said Wallace, former director of music at St. James School in Sewickley.
This will be the last year for the production, which is scheduled at several locations across the region.
Wallace said she called former St. James School principal Sister Mary Eileen Cook as she weighed her decision.
“Linda has always been so generous with her time and talents,” said Cook, who asked Wallace to write the play almost three decades ago.
Cook told Wallace that after presenting the play to many people over so many years, she can “surely only be blessed by that.”
“Why Must He Die?” is a play within a play, Wallace said.
The action repeatedly is frozen so characters can reflect on Jesus' life, react to what led to his impending death and share thoughts with the audience.
The play first was performed in 1985, and was presented for many years by St. James' eighth-grade graduating class. Later performances were by Sewickley Choir Institute's Teen Chorale, which eventually changed its name to TriCounty Choir Institute, and by the organization's Village Singers.
At one point, the group did 28 performances in one Easter season.
The play has been performed at 143 churches of all denominations, and 17 times at various schools and retirement homes. The last play will mark 416 performances.
Village Singers will continue, but there will be fewer concerts during the Christmas season, Wallace said.
For the first time in about 15 years, the play won't be presented at St. James Catholic Church. The Rev. Thomas Burke said space has been “maxed out” because of increased activities there.
Local performers in this year's cast include Kim Householder of Leetsdale, who will be play a Canaanite woman, and Angel Palladini of Sewickley, who will play one of the children.
To commemorate the last year, Wallace has set up a “hall of fame” on the choir group's Facebook page. Wallace said she is encouraging the 500 alumni of “Why Must He Die?” over the years to comment.
Hannah Gaul, 19, formerly of Beaver Falls,who played the woman of blood and the liturgical dancer in the play, said she never before has been part of such a moving performance.
“It offered me one of the best real-life musical experiences ever, while still being able to worship at every show,” said Gaul, a student at The College of Wooster in Ohio. “It's one of the best ways to celebrate the Easter season for those in it and those watching.”
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sewickley Heights couple named Good Samaritans
- Koch: Even a tropical paradise is painted with black and gold
- Quaker Valley school pictures to be taken by teacher
- Quaker Valley could consider changes to volunteer program
- Growing third-grade class sizes a concern at Quaker Valley
- Luncheons serve more than patrons at Sewickley’s Christy House
- Lane: Confessions of a professional organizer
- Sewickley Academy student, family work with leprosy patients
- Sewickley tackles same issues as other small towns
- Reporter want ad: Seeking Sewickley-area pumpkin carvers