Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Annual Passion Play portrays final days of Christ's life

Fr. John Boettcher portrayed Jesus Christ during the 30th annual Lake County Passion Play, which took place Saturday, May 15, and Sunday, May 16, 2010, near Lakeport, Calif. Boettcher said that he receives some new insight about the passion play story each time he takes part in the production. Photo by Tera DeVroede.





LAKEPORT – This past weekend the annual Lake County Passion Play once again returned with its unique portrayal of the last days of Jesus Christ.

Hundreds of people arranged themselves in the audience area of the field with their own lawn chairs and blankets to watch the reenactment of some of the most important moments in Christian scripture.

Beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery complemented this year’s Passion Play; the weather proved perfect for an outdoor play.

“The setting makes the play,” said the play’s co-founder, Father Philip J. Ryan.

The Passion Play, celebrating its 30th anniversary, is extra special this year because Jesus began his public ministry when he was 30 years old, according to event organizers.

The play required no entrance fee but donations are always accepted. Bumper stickers, license plate covers and T-shirts were some new items offered for donations, aside from the bottled water.

Ryan said that all of the money raised always goes back into the Passion Play grounds, which are located in the north Lakeport area off of Highway 29.

In 2001 the Passion Play Board of Directors purchased the 85-acre Beltramo Ranch property that makes up the grounds for $399,500 after owners Armondo and Catherine Beltramo offered it for sale, organizers reported.

Ryan said the production usually costs somewhere around $3,000 to produce each year.

All three stages underwent renovations in the past four years and were redone with a much more durable material called Trex.

The massive production attracts people from across the nation and the globe each year. Ryan said he knew of people who came from Scotland, Australia and many other countries, just to see this play.

Many local people attended as well, as there are audience members who have been there nearly every year, he said.




Juan Erquiaga portrayed a Roman charioteer during the 30th annual Lake County Passion Play, which took place Saturday, May 15, and Sunday, May 16, 2010, near Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Tera DeVroede.



Bonnie Edwards of Ukiah attended, and she was in a Passion Play production that took place in Ukiah several years ago. It was her first time attending Lake County’s.

“I was in tears,” she said. “It was so well done. This brought reality to such an incredible moment in time.”

She is excited about volunteering in the Lake County Passion Play in the future.

This year Jesus was played by Fr. John Boettcher. He has volunteered to act in that role for 13 years during the play's history.

At times he comes all the way from Rome and Jerusalem for the play. If that is not dedicated enough, he also truly carries a heavy wooden cross, weighing 120 pounds, up the hillside to the crucifixion scene.

“Every time I’ve been in the play, I’ve experienced some new insight,” said Boettcher. “It’s always something different for me.”

Nearly 150 people volunteered to act in the play, as the entire production is possible through volunteerism, Ryan said.

If anyone is interested in volunteering, please call 707-279-0349.

Visit for more information.



E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .



The liturgical dancers perform at the base of the three crosses during the 30th annual Lake County Passion Play, which took place Saturday, May 15, and Sunday, May 16, 2010, near Lakeport, Calif. Photo by Tera DeVroede.

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