Tuneful twist to the Easter tale
People flocking to the city centre yesterday to watch the story of Jesus's crucifixion were surprised to see less suffering and more singing.
This year's Christ in the Centre saw a 40-strong cast, in brightly-coloured robes, give two performances of a play written by children's author Meg Harper.
The show ended with gospel singing instead of the agonising death of Christ on the cross.
Afterwards, many said they preferred the more child-friendly version, while others missed the more realistic drama from previous years.
Clive Watts, 43, of Leicester Forest East, said: "It was very different to previous years and not what I expected, but I think it told the story and told it well."
Jill Carr, 49, of Evington, said: "The question is whether it's missing its central message. The death of Jesus was always done in a shocking way and now it's Jesus in a bright red robe."
Another woman, who did not want to be named, said: "It was more child-friendly – my 13-year-old daughter didn't want to come because it profoundly affected her seeing the violence last year.
"But it's now a bit short and less gripping."
Tim and Jen Stratford, of Leicester city centre, were attending for the first time and enjoyed it. Jen said: "They made it so alive and compelling and I think it would appeal to everyone."
Tim said: "My feet are very cold, but I was impressed – it's great that they tell the story so clearly and well in the middle of the city centre like this and the number of people here is pretty good."
Sylvia Richardson, of Rothley, said: "It was brilliant. The lovely singing was fantastic. It's very nice to see Leicester celebrating a Christian festival."
Marion Seaman, 73, who lives near Market Harborough, said: "I loved the strong characters, especially Jesus and Judas – there was no namby-pamby acting."
Event trustee Jonathan Wheeler said about 6,000 people had attended the morning show and that the reaction had been good.He said: "We were doing something different and it went really well.
"We had a good number of people and the initial reaction was very good."
The event cost about £43,000 to stage and the organisers were about £8,000 short at the beginning of this month.
Bucket collections took place during the event to raise funds to keep it going in future years.
Mr Wheeler said: "We have our collections during the event and there is also a form on the programme for people to send in donations.
"We are very near the finishing line for this year but we need to make it more of a year-round fund-raising thing.