Jesus gets an excited welcome in this scene (contributed photo).

Red Deer actor walks in the sandals of Jesus in Badlands Passion Play.

Aaron Krogman takes on demanding role in a musical retelling

Playing Jesus has given Red Deer actor Aaron Krogman special insight into a Christian figure who was not all sweetness and light.

“I wouldn’t say Jesus is the opposite of a villain. He actually has an anti-hero function,” said Krogman, who will step into the sandals of the key character in the Canadian Badlands Passion Play this summer after a two year hiatus.

Having depicted Jesus Christ off and on in the Drumheller-area extravaganza from 2011-2015, Krogman is excited to play him again in a more musical 25th-anniversary season. It runs for nine performances with a 150-person cast, live music and animals, from July 6 to 22.

Krogman sees Christ as “a disruptor, a wrench in the system… the Pharisees couldn’t stand him, his own disciples were intrigued, but frustrated by him…”

He portrays Jesus as someone who’s constantly rocking the boat of the establishment — which Krogman figures is more interesting than imagining him as a beatific peacenik, surrounded by children and lambs.

“I don’t find the God side of him to be as compelling as the human side — his relationships and his struggle…”

Krogman, who’s performed at Rosebud Theatre and in Red Deer playwright Andrew Kooman’s original stage play, She Has a Name, competed his Master’s degree in Theology in Vancouver in April. The Red Deer-raised actor has moved back to Alberta, where he now teaches drama at Edmonton’s King’s University.

He’s “super excited” about returning to the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. This summer’s run should be extra special, he said, since 15 original songs, composed by Luke Ertman in a style comparable to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, have been woven into the story line.

Krogman believes the songs will help audience members understand what characters are feeling at key moments in the story line.

The latest script, taken from the Gospel of Luke, shifts emphasis on the relationship between Jesus and his disciple, fisherman Simon Peter (played by Saskatoon actor Tim Hildebrand).

Vance Neudorf, the executive-director of the Passion Play, considers both Krogman and Hildebrand to be audience favourites.

Those watching the three-hour passion play should also be pleased that shows have been moved back to 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. on Sundays — “so that the shade from the hills can cover the audience as the play progresses,” said Neudorf. He believes this extra coolness will enhance the “incredible, intimate outdoor experience.”

The opening performance in a 30-acre natural amphitheatre is already sold out. For more information, please call 1-888-823-2001 or visit

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An exuberant scene from The Canadian Badlands Passion Play. (Contributed photo).

Aaron Krogman draws on his own faith and experience to portray the role of Jesus Christ. (Contributed photo).

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