'The Thorn' Large-Scale Production Mixes Martial Arts, Acrobatics in Portrayal of Gospel Message at New Life Church Founded by Ted Haggard

A scene from 'The Thorn,' a version of the Gospel story that features dance, music, acrobatics and martial arts.
A scene from "The Thorn," a version of the Gospel story that features dance, music, acrobatics and martial arts. | (Photo: Courtesy of Ted Mehl/"The Thorn")

"The Thorn," a theatrical adaption based on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that includes acrobatics and martial arts, will be performed at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, which was founded by its former pastor, Ted Haggard.

The play is the product of John Bolin, a former youth pastor at New Life Church, who in an interview with the Gazette, described "The Thorn" as "the Bible on stage like you've never seen it."

Derived from a 1990s high school play that's produced with a cast of hundreds, "The Thorn" will be performed at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, starting on Thursday.

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"I think God likes it when we tell a story. From the artistic side, when we do something beautiful like this, it sticks, it grows," Bolin asserted.

Sarah Bolin, executive producer at Thorn Productions and wife of John, spoke to The Christian Post about what makes this production different from other theatrical versions of the Gospel story.

"'The Thorn' is different in that it involves local volunteer actors and professionals who tell the story; it explores the supernatural perspective of the Gospel story (angels and demons), and uses multiple artistic and athletic talents," she explained.

"We tour with the production and are in six cities this year. Colorado Springs is our longest running annual show on its 19th year. Also, 'The Thorn' is not a play with speaking parts. There is a narrator and the rest of the scenes are acted to music with live singers."

The most recent tour of the production began earlier this month with performances in Fort Worth, Texas, and will culminate in Nashville, Tennessee, next month.

On its website, "The Thorn" is described as "a visually dynamic and heart-stirring theatrical portrayal of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."

"'The Thorn' combines martial arts, aerial acrobatics and emotionally powerful performances that have been engaging audiences across the U.S. for almost 20 years," the description continues. "To help bring this timeless story to life, 'The Thorn' recruits large-scale casts of professional and volunteer performers who share in the heart of 'The Thorn.'"

New Life Church is promoting the performances, five scheduled over four days, with a link on their home page. "[W]itness the Gospel message presented in a powerful way. Using narrative, visuals, movement and music to tell the story of the Cross. Often described as The Passion meets Cirque du Soleil, the show has expanded over the years to include aerial acrobatics, pyrotechnics, dynamic visuals and special effects."

"Also on board are dancers from the Ballet Society of Colorado Springs, who will perform during the Colorado Springs dates," the Gazette reports. "Ballet Emmanuel, a professional Christian ballet company, will perform at other stops on the tour."

When asked by CP about the value of theatre as a way to convey the Gospel, Bolin responded that she thinks "telling the story in a variety of ways is valuable."

"We love the arts and theater because it gives so much space for creativity, variety, and artistic expression," she added.

"'The Thorn' involves martial arts, dance, aerial arts, acting, singing … it's rare to have the vehicle to be able to combine all of these talents in once space. We truly love it!"

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