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story.lead_photo.caption Cindy Gearheart, left, and Madison Backes rehearse for Stained Glass Theatre's production of "The Robe," opening tonight. Photo by Ken Barnes / News Tribune.

Don't worry, the Roman soldiers greeting you at the doors of Stained Glass Theatre will have your best interests in mind — really, they just want you to enjoy the show.

Directed by Cheryl Belt, Stained Glass Theatre's newest production, "The Robe," opens at 7:30 p.m. tonight at 830 E. High St. The story, drawn from biblical passages in Matthew 27:35-37, comes roughly three weeks before Easter Sunday and runs until March 20.

The play follows young, exiled Roman officer Marcellus, played by Alan Lemerande, whose duty it is to crucify a Galilean. Though he believes the man to be innocent and is apprehensive about the task, he follows through. He has also, however, gambled and won the Galilean's robe and become deeply troubled and restless as the robe is a constant reminder of the man and other persecuted Christians. It is the robe, Belt said, that "helps to transform him."

As part of the theater's 2021 "Season of Healing," the production fits in perfectly, Belt said.

"It's about the healing of this man's soul," she said. "He's tormented," but it's not a physical healing; rather, it's spiritual. In a final scene of "emotion and power," the synopsis says, Marcellus accepts death for himself and his young wife rather than renounce his faith.

Belt wasn't originally planning to direct the play but was brought on after another director couldn't do it, she said. It seems, however, that it came at the right time.

"The first week that we started rehearsals, my father passed away," Belt said. "My first thought was to quit, but my mom told me, 'No, you need to go and direct this.' And it worked out. This cast and crew was really there for me through this difficult time, and even the story plot, how Christ is with us through the difficult times and helps us get through."

That message is what Belt said she hopes audiences will take away — through asking and following Christ, he can change lives.

The cast, 13 men and nine women, have all adopted the message as well. Belt has been involved with theater for roughly a decade, she said, but this cast "has been one of the easiest groups that I've ever had to direct," though you're always balancing different personalities.

And even with a cast made up of primarily men, who are harder to come by in local theater, Belt said, everything has gone well. The cast has taken COVID-19 precautions seriously as well, she said.

Belt encouraged families to come out to see the show, assuring audiences the production won't be graphic regarding the crucifixion.

"It's a good family show. They shouldn't hesitate to bring children," she said.

As with all Stained Glass Theatre performances, tickets for "The Robe" on opening night are $7, and tickets for the following five shows are $10. The theater also has a family price of $36 for immediate family members living within the same household. Reservations can be made at sgtmidmo.org, by emailing [email protected] or by calling 573-634-5313.

Show dates and times are 7:30 p.m. tonight, Friday and March 18-19, as well as 2 p.m. Saturday and March 20. Doors open 30 minutes before the show.

An earlier version of this article had an incorrect caption for the photo. 

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