This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Crowds flock to see Easter story brought to life in Leicester city centre
A gruesome crucifixion scene helped bring to life the power of the Easter story for thousands of people in the city centre yesterday.
The annual Christ in the Centre event was performed in Humberstone Gate and footage shown to the crowds on the big screen.
The performance began with a prayer and a welcome by Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens.
He said: "As we watch and as we pray, we might ask that we shall be given strength to live out the message of this story in our lives, and ensure that what is acted here is made known among the communities where we live."
The performance, which takes different forms each year, was a straightforward, powerful enactment of the Bible story of Jesus's death and resurrection.
People in the audience said they found the performance moving and impressive.
Paul Kaminski, 48, from Evington, Leicester, said: "It was a horrible death, so that's how they've performed it. It's a very professional drama.
"I've enjoyed it and I think the good turnout reflects the fact that there's an interest in the message of Easter."
David Spendlove, 54, from Shepshed, said: "It was very good and a very professional performance with excellent acting. I always come into Leicester to watch it and I like the fact they do it every year here."
Folake Olonode, 30, from Glenfield, was watching the performance for the first time, with her daughter.
She said: "I was surprised there were so many people here. It's so nice to see people coming together to celebrate Easter like this.
"I'm very impressed – they've done an excellent job."
Daughter Farique Fuller, nine, said: "I like it because it reminds me of the story of Jesus."
The performance, which was the 10th Christ in the City event, featured professional actor James Mathison-Kelly as Jesus. A number of paid technical staff supported the dozens of volunteers behind the event.
About £40,000 was raised to cover the cost of staging it.
This year, organisers decided to stage the play entirely in Humberstone Gate, rather than have the performance wind its way through the city centre as it has done in the past.
Nicola Wright, 45, from Stocking Farm, Leicester, who was also in the crowd, said: "I did like it when the actors walked through the city centre, but it is good with the big screen.
"I come most years to see it and it's always a really good performance and a nice way to mark a very important day in the Christian Church."
Pauline Hudson, 55, from Thurmaston, said: "I've been coming here for several years – it's excellent."
Canon Barry Naylor, who chairs the Christ in the Centre organising committee, said: "This year, it's about the hope at the heart of the Christian gospel, which is so relevant right now."
Canon Naylor said he was pleased with the number of people who massed in the city centre to watch the play.
He said: "It's an excellent turnout – there are clearly thousands of people here."
"The wonderful thing is the dedication of the actors and all the others who help bring it off on the day."
The organisers are already appealing for help and volunteers for next year's production.
Meanwhile, hundreds of worshippers gathered in the centre of Market Harborough for a service organised by the town's churches yesterday.
A procession through the town was held before the service, which included hymns and prayers and a puppet show. It was followed by hot cross buns being handed to shoppers.