FARMINGTON — Each year, Passion Play Ministries International adds something new to its Passion play.

This year's play will feature a choir for the first time. The play, which opens over the weekend and continues throughout Holy Week, tells the story of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.

Last year's play added an orchestra, which helped attract a big audience. The growth in popularity prompted the Four Corners-based ministry to move the annual play to the McGee Park Convention Center. The play has been performed at the Farmington Civic Center since 2000.

"Last year, we had to turn quite a number of people away," said Stan Burgett, the co-founder of Passion Play Ministries International.

Jesus, played by Derrick Adams, and Caiaphas, played by Cody Wilkins, act out a scene from the Passion play on Thursday during rehearsal at the McGee Park
Jesus, played by Derrick Adams, and Caiaphas, played by Cody Wilkins, act out a scene from the Passion play on Thursday during rehearsal at the McGee Park Convention Center in Farmington. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

Burgett has already seen signs this year's play will attract a large number of people from around the state. He said staff from a church in Albuquerque contacted the ministry and said they plan to bus 50 people to Farmington see the play.

Before 2013, all the music in the play was on a soundtrack. In 2013, Mauricio Espinal, from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, joined the ministry and scored all of the music for the orchestra.

For the last four months, he has been working on scoring music for a choir.

"All we do is for Jesus," Espinal said. "He is the center alone."

Espinal has been involved in music for 10 years.

"The music of this play — it's a wonderful music, a powerful music," Espinal said.

Members of about 40 different churches, of various denominations, participate in the Passion play. Burgett describes it as one big family.

"We found out that we have more to agree on than we have to argue about," he said.

There are two different casts for the play, one Spanish and one English. Casts attend dress rehearsals for both languages but perform on separate days.

Jonatan Lopez Duran, the pastor of Templo Sinai, is directing the Spanish cast.

He said the play has helped his congregation connect with people in the Four Corners.

"This is how we were able to be in touch with the Spanish community, and, not just that, we got connected with the English community," he said.

IF YOU GO

What: Passion Play

Spanish presentations: 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

English presentations: 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday

Where: McGee Park Convention Center, 41 Road 5568, Farmington

Tickets: Free

More info: www.passion-play.org

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.