The Great Passion Play Resurrected

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Ten days ago the fate of The Great Passion Play was uncertain because of $75,000 owed to a Eureka Springs Bank.

Thursday, the 45-year-old play that chronicles the last days of Jesus Christ is back in business.

“The park is going to open again in a few days," said Randall Christy, President and Founder of the Gospel Station Network.

“It's just a part of me, my family was raised in here, my wife and four children have grown up in the play, so it means a lot to us," added Rick Mann, who plays the part of Jesus in the Passion Play.

The play opened in 1968 with 7.6 million visitors from all over the World.

Over the years a decline in attendance from the struggling economy set the Passion Play back, but when word of the play's closing spread, donations started coming in

“It's because of people all over the United States want to make sure that the Passion Play goes on for the generations for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” said Christy.

“We've had donations come in from a vast area, we just received one this morning from South Carolina and it's amazing the people really want the passion play,” added  Keith Butler, Spokesperson with the Elna M. Smith Foundation, a non-profit organization that Runs the Passion Play.

Christy said they're moving forward to keep the play alive for generations to come.

“Our board has decided to donate a $100,000 worth of free publicity for 12 months for the Passion Play and Eureka Springs,” said Christy.

“The Gospel Station Network has really committed themselves that they will help us on this journey with advertising and really get the word out,” added Butler.

The foundation is also starting a save the seat campaign to raise one million dollars.

“A person can donate $250 and we'll put a plaque either with their name on it, donated by or in memory of or in honor of, they could put in the name of their church, in the name of their pastor, anybody they want and we'll mount that to the seat," explained Christy.

Christy said a few changes are in store to attract more people.

“We're launching a $6 million capital improvement campaign to not only restore the amphitheater, but to also increase the technical aspect of the show, we also want to refurbish the facility.”

Christy said they hope the improvements attract more people this season.

“It takes around $2 million to operate and if we could just have 75,000 people attend, which it used to be three times that than we can make a profit."

Christy also said they plan on making some changes this season including opening Thursday, Friday and Saturday Starting in May running through October.  They also plan on having special ticket prices for the opening weekend.