Though this is first and foremost a passion play, stay with me.
The Gallery of Living Art, created by First Lutheran Church, isn't a completely theatrical take on the last days of Jesus Christ, la The Thorn. The "artformance" is instead a series of scenes in which church volunteers pose as characters in famous works of religious art, paired with choir music and biblical narration.
For the past 15 years during the season of Lent, the church has produced the unique affair, which from an entirely secular, artistic standpoint is impressive.
Erik Hjelmstad, 37, has been involved in Gallery since its inception. He says he sees art differently after having participated in the living works.
"It's interesting," he says, "because you really get to know what the artist was doing with a lot of the different scenes."
Hjelmstad has played several roles in which he's experienced how difficult it is to stand still for 2 minutes, including that of Judas in "The Last Supper." Ironically, he's also narrated the voice of Jesus.
To create each live artwork, volunteers build stages, paint backdrops and hand-sew costumes to emulate the characters. New scenes are added annually. Special events director Judy Wach co-produces the show, which now casts 80 people in the 14 scenes, 70 more in the choir, and 15 backstage.
Wach and colleagues were inspired by having seen a similar program at a California church 15 years ago, which itself took the idea from the famous Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters, a high-tech art festival and progenitor of the live art movement.
Wach's favorite scene comes from late-19th-century artist Heinrich Hofmann's "Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane," in which Jesus prays to God to spare Judas after his betrayal .
"It looks so much like the actual painting," she says.
Bringing a dark, moody, two-dimensional work to three-dimensional life that's something even non-religious types can appreciate.