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Theater troupe to acting out God's message March 26 at First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville
Friends of the Groom to conduct a workshop March 25 and perform show on March 26
GO FRIENDSofGROOM-Sam Spade
The Ohio-based theater troupe Friends of the Groom will conduct a workshop Saturday, March 25, and perform a show Sunday, March 26, at First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville.

Friends of the Groom

When: Workshop 3-5 p.m. Saturday, March 25; show 4 p.m. Sunday, March 26

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 800 S. Enota Drive NE, Gainesville

Cost: $15 adults at door and free for children and students

More info: 770-530-9248

People always wonder if Friends of the Groom is a tuxedo rental or limousine service. Some have even called throughout the years to ask if it performs at bachelor parties.

Friends of the Groom does not do either. Instead the Cincinnati, Ohio-based theater group is “committed to revealing the Christian message in challenging and entertaining ways,” said Tom Long, executive director, playwright and chief storyteller.

Friends of the Groom will conduct a workshop and performance March 25 and 26 as part of the First Presbyterian Fine Arts Series in Gainesville.

Church members are excited to have the unique group visit, although they weren’t originally on the schedule.

“We were hoping to get them for next season, but we had a cancellation,” said Michael “Mike” Henry, the church’s former music director, who had seen the drama group at conferences in North Carolina. “I kind of held my breath and located them and called them. And lo and behold, they were available for the weekend we needed them.”

Friends of the Groom will conduct a free drama workshop called “Beyond Bathrobes,” from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at the church at 800 S. Enota Drive NE in Gainesville.

“It’s really geared toward the use of the dramatic arts in worship and in churches,” Henry said.

Long explained workshop will be “experiential” and “fun.”

“We usually like to say to people that by the time they leave, they should have five to 10 new ways of presenting a story in a church setting,” he said. “In the workshop also, we may be drawing some volunteers who will help us with doing something in the Sunday service at the church.”

The main show called “The Case of the Missing Bodies” will be at 4 p.m. Sunday, March 26. Long wrote the original script.

“This definitely is a script from my sideways looking brain,” Long said, pointing out is adapted from Acts, Chapter 12. “(It is) where Simon Peter makes a miraculous escape from prison with the help of an angel. But it’s told as a Humphrey Bogart 1940s film. It’s kind of unique and creative and has some humor in it. “

Founded in 1980, Friends of the Groom perform 100-150 times a year, normally reaching 12-16 states and about 10-12 religious denominations, according to its website, www.friendsofthegroom.org. The traveling team is composed of three actors drawn from a pool of seven from the Cincinnati area.

“The name of the group always needs some explanation,” Long said, indicating it comes from the Bible. “There are a number of places in the New Testament where the Kingdom of Heaven is described as a great wedding banquet to which we are all invited. The bridegroom at the banquet is always Jesus. So friends of the groom is really just a way of saying friends of Jesus.”

Both Henry and Long encourage the community to come out for the event.

“I sometimes say I think people can travel more deeply in their faith on a vehicle of laughter,” Long said. “There’s always some humor in what we do, but then we also try to make sure there’s depth and meaning as well.”

For more information, visit www.friendsofthegroom.org or call 770-532-0136.

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