Spring Operetta Lets Students Shine

Central Lutheran shares God’s Love Through Musical Production

Central Lutheran School students are taking the stage this week in a production that spans centuries, from Biblical times to the 1980’s, thanks to an abandoned time machine and some curious kids.

Central Lutheran’s production of Back to the Cross, performed by the second and third graders, transports audiences to the 1920’s, 60’s, 80’s and the time of Christ, where students sing about Jesus’ love while enjoying cultural nods to various eras.

The performances are held March 11 at 7:00 and March 13 at 2:00 in Central Lutheran’s gym.

Central Lutheran School has a long tradition with their spring operetta, which started in 1978. This full musical production includes singing, acting, choreography and a full set. It’s an equal partnership between the second and third grade teachers who include Mary Potter, Anne Hess, James Aumick, and Phyllis Hockemeyer. While the operetta provides a valuable immersive arts experience, it also “teaches [students] to serve the Lord at a very young age,” says teacher, Mary Potter.

But they couldn’t do it without the generous help of volunteers and parents, who provide the behind-the-scenes help for the production.

“It’s a way of getting parents involved, [whether it’s] donating a prop, helping with cookies, painting the sets,” says Phyllis Hockemeyer. “One [volunteer] is a dance instructor who doesn’t have a child [at Central] and another has grown children. It makes it a community thing.”

Back to the Cross opens in CW Worthington Park and Prayer Garden with Norman, his sister Ava, and her friend, Morgan. The kids stumble upon a time machine, which suddenly comes to life and transports them to a new decade in the same park. The time travelers jump through various eras, meeting the original C.W. Worthington, who donated the land for the prayer garden. But time travel has its downside when Morgan changes history and C.W. doesn’t donate the land.  Back in the future, they realize they need to return to the 1920’s to fix history, but instead land in the 1960’s, 1870’s, and the Garden of Gethsemane. Seeing Jesus, Morgan realizes Christ’s sacrifice was for her. Back to the Cross shows how Jesus’ death and resurrection are for everybody throughout history.

With catchy music and lyrics, every student in the second and third grade participates in a role, whether it’s singing in the choir, acting on stage or performing choreography.  The musical gives students confidence in front of an audience while immersing them in a full stage production.

“One of the most fun things is that the fourth through eighth graders know how it feels and they wear their t-shirts from their show,” says Phyllis Hockemeyer. “[Because] the students are all given a part they can step into, they remember the history of being in the operetta.”

While last year’s operetta focused on the theme of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, this year’s musical takes cultural references and popular eras to make a point about how Christ changed history.

“Maybe [the message] will get through to one family,” Anne Hess says. “It’s a lot of fun and the core of everything we do.  It’s about our salvation and sharing it with others.”

Though the play is a fun musical experience for the students, the real point of Central’s spring operetta is teaching families about Christ’s sacrifice for us. Because of its message, the operetta has become a valuable school tradition for Central, impacting students and teachers alike.

“By the time we’ve worked through this for six to seven weeks, you’re at your weakest moment,” adds Phyllis. “You’re tired. Then God’s Word hits you on your head.  That’s what you want for the audience.  All glory goes to God.”