Bellevue’s ‘Wonder of Christmas’ brings magic, Christmas village, live animals

December 3, 2018 | 3:00 am

Updated December 4, 2018 | 5:22 am

Photo submitted by J.P. Kwok

Bellevue Baptist Church is presenting “The Wonder of Christmas,” an original production by Bellevue’s worship pastor J.P. Kwok and Scott Norris, a congregation member.

Kwok and Norris’ idea for the production came from thinking about the Christmas season and the efforts people put into the visual elements of Christmas.

“Christmas is the time of year when we decorate our homes with garland, trees, trinkets and lights,” Kwok said. “It’s a season when we go out of our way to make the world a more beautiful place for our families and neighbors. There is something magical about seeing our neighborhoods transform into a world of imagination and beauty. Christmas is a season of beauty and light and that light reflects the very heart of our Creator.”

Elaborate Christmas programs have been held annually at Bellevue for over 16 years, and the last five have grown even more elaborate. Kwok, who is in his eleventh Christmas event at Bellevue, began as the musical director and served in that capacity for six years. During that time Kwok and Norris would collaborate, with Kwok choosing the music that went with Norris’ drama.

“That format ran for 10 years,” Kwok said, but five years ago they decided to break that mold. “I became the overall director by default as we launched into uncharted territories.”

The first three years, Bellevue adapted a large production called “Awaited” from a church in Cincinnati.

“It was an amazing show, a blend of musical and modern dance ballet — like a Christmas ‘Lion King,’” Kwok said. “We adapted it each year, writing a few of our own songs in place of some the original.”

And then last year, Kwok and Norris decided to stop that show and dreamt up “The Wonder of Christmas.”

“It is a fast-paced race from July to Dec. 7 putting it together,” Kwok said.

The congregation members who perform annually, some putting in over 30 hours of rehearsals for the weekend shows, align with the mission of the event, “which is to love our community and share the gospel truth of Christmas,” according to Kwok. It also allows those members who love music and theatre to share their joy through those mediums.

Kwok said that crucial to the program’s success are senior pastor Greg Faulls, technical director and lighting designer Alicia Berry, technical director, media director and graphics artist Wes Buehler, choreographers Jamie Zambrano and Phillip Page, orchestra director Rex Stone, and stage managers Renee Mesplay and Nicole Buehler.

Photo courtesy of J.P. Kwok

Over the years, there are many stories of members who have stepped out of their comfort zone to perform and many who have been involved in the annual productions. David Downey, who drives almost an hour to Bellevue, is a guitarist who has “really grown,” according to Kwok.

“Keyboardist Lisa Jones also drives 45 minutes has been a ‘key’ player for 11 years,” Kwok said. “Jamie Zambrano and her daughter Grace, who graduates this year, have served faithfully each year and have been critical to the last five years of choreography. And Scott Norris has been so instrumental; he’s back on stage acting this year in a brand new scene.”

Photo courtesy of J.P. Kwok

The production is free to the public, but this year, Bellevue is asking those that want to donate to bring a requested item to benefit CrossRoads and Fresh Start for Women, two local shelters. Toilet paper, diapers, pull-ups, kitchen trash bags, laundry detergent, pillows and hygiene products are examples of some of the requested items.

“The program is one-third Christmas fun and two-thirds Christmas nativity story from before the birth of Jesus to the resurrection,” Kwok said.

Christmas village at Bellevue | Photo courtesy of J.P. Kwok

In addition to the performance, Bellevue will also have live animals and a Christmas village.

There are five performances for “The Wonder of Christmas” at Bellevue Baptist Church located at 4950 State Route 56: Friday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 9 at 10 a.m., 4 and 7 p.m.

December 3, 2018 | 3:00 am

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