Behind the Scenes
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Creating life-sized living art goes through multiple steps with many challenges to complete each. First and foremost is choosing art that clearly communicates events in the Bible while taking into consideration that each can be properly scaled to 1) accommodate live models and 2) fit within the dimensions of the stage. Once an art piece is chosen, Adobe Photoshop is used to calculate the finished size which, in turn, helps with the most challenging part of this whole creative process: finding models with exact characteristics necessary to authentically reproduce the art.



The models are crucial to this form of art. Before they are selected, the basic framework of the painting or sculpture is designed and then built. During the selection process, height, weight, shape, facial structure, gender, age, etc. all have to be taken into consideration to find the right models. If a model is an inch too tall or too short, the final result seen on stage is not as effective.


After the models are selected, it is a continuous process of fitting them into the framework as work progresses. It requires positioning of bodies or body parts to mimic the exact poses in the original art while placing any props and draping costumes. The ultimate goal is to have the models fit like a glove into the painting or sculpture so that it’s difficult or next to impossible for the audience to discern what parts of the art are “living.”


The Makeup & Costumes

descent from the cross

To achieve the necessary effects on large portions of arms, legs, backs and faces, special makeup is required. This isn’t makeup as we think of it, but more like body paint used to create muscles, shadows, and Roman features as well as the illusion of marble and bronze. For the costumes of biblical times, the artists conduct extensive experimentation with texture and colors that are true to the color in each new piece. The costumes also have to remain stationary so they look the same as the original for every second of every presentation. This is accomplished by dipping pieces of muslin or jersey into a mixture of glue and paint.

How do they get the sheen on the white marble for Michelangelo’s Pieta?  It’s quite simple really. Just spray it with water and glycerin seconds before the curtains open.


"Some of the models grow beards and long hair, shave their heads and work out to fit certain body types. One model share’s his secret of “the loin cloth” diet. “You go on the diet when you know you’re going to be seen by 10,000 people in nothing but a loin cloth.”   Model for “Descent from the Cross


archangel michael casting satan into hell

Technical Engineering

A dedicated group of staff and volunteers direct lighting and sound, video production, cue calling, and stage management. The tech crew is dedicated to being the “invisible army” that holds the show together. In particular, lighting must be designed to eliminate all shadows from the models and is an essential element to the authenticity of the art work. A sharp contrast is seen between standard lighting and lighting for this production when models take their places for “The Last Supper” as the audience watches. The lights go down for one or two seconds and then come back up with the specially designed lighting, eliciting a gasp of amazement at every performance, regardless of how many times one has seen this particular piece.


On occasion there have been crashes heard from behind the closed curtain. Safety and stability are the main priority as some of the models have to be supported in awkward positions high above the stage floor. Not only do they have to be able to hold a pose for three minutes or more, they also have to be protected from falls caused by equipment failure. In many of the pieces, armatures to hold extended limbs in place, and bicycle seats and safety belts are utilized and hidden one way or another. When unexplained delays occur, the choir and orchestra have “emergency pieces” at-the-ready for just such occasions. Over the years, God has been faithful in keeping every participant safe from injury.


The Artist Behind the Art

The Feeding of the 5000

Brad Hicks, a distinguished artist with a wide range of professional experience, is the current art director and oversees all artistic operations. He leads a team of artists, engineers, and carpenters who volunteer their time and considerable skills to bring the art pieces to the stage. Brad and his team have created reproductions of large, glowing stained glass windows; whole printed pages from the Bible; black and white etchings; and painted works and sculptures, all specially designed to support live models, every one a masterpiece of minute detail and innovation. Throughout his work each year, Brad says he most enjoys seeing God’s hand at work during the process.


“With very few meetings and a minimum amount of contact between all of the 400+ team members, the pageant comes together miraculously, and everyone proceeds with one heart and a spirit of love and caring.”  - Brad Hicks, Art Director

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