PRESS RELEASE
“The music tells the story – the story changes lives!”
 
Catholic Diocese of Saginaw
Communications Office
Contact: Erin Looby (989) 797-6630
ecarlson@dioceseofsaginaw.org
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
February 10, 2015   
 

Dramatic Performance Produced by Former Miss Michigan to be Featured at Catholic Youth Event


SAGINAW –
 “The Cross and the Light Concert Experience” will be performed at the upcoming MYE Faith youth event on Aug. 8, 2015 at Saginaw Valley State University. “The Cross and the Light Concert Experience” is a musical performance about Jesus produced by former Miss Michigan and Miss America Runner-up, Kelly Nieto.

“The Cross and the Light” has been performed for over 70,000 people around the world. Seven performers will travel from as far away as New York City for the youth event, including rising stars such as Tim Bowman, Jr., son of jazz legend Tim Bowman and nephew of gospel icons Vickie and CeCe Winans. 

“As a musician, I’ve opened for Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and many others and the singers who will travel to Saginaw are just as talented,” said Nieto. She not only praises the talent of the cast, but also their generosity as well. For example, Nieto initially knew that she could not afford to hire Tim Bowman, Jr. after he secured a record contract with Capitol Records which released albums by artists such as Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and many others. Yet, Bowman enjoyed performing in the “Cross and the Light” so much that he agreed to continue doing so.

“The Cross and the Light Concert Experience” is one of the highlights planned for this summer’s youth event that will also include Mass with the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, an evening concert with JJ Weeks Band, breakout sessions with Kelly Nieto and others and much more. 

MYE FAITH is a one-day event presented by the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw in which youth encounter Christ through the Eucharist, dynamic speakers, spirit-filled prayer, stirring music, and more. The theme for the 2015 youth event is “Got Love?” There is no fee for youth attendees and adult chaperones in the Diocese of Saginaw. Free bus transportation to and from the event is available. More information about the MYE Faith youth event can be found at www.myefaith.com

A promotional video for “The Cross and the Light Concert Experience” is viewable at http://youtu.be/1WPiUJuRhng

The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw was established by Pope Pius XI on Feb. 26, 1938. Today, it includes 6,955 square miles across Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Midland, Sanilac, Saginaw and Tuscola counties.

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ADDITIONAL NEWS ARTICLES
 

Changed by Stations of the Cross? 

Detroit Archdiocese teams with The Cross and the Light musicians to evangelize through the retelling of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection in song.

BY KATHY SCHIFFER 03/31/2015

“Our goal is to baptize the imagination,” said Kelly Nieto, creator and executive producer of The Cross and the Light. “Imagine singers performing by candlelight, and then, as the Holy Spirit descends at Pentecost, imagine the walls of the church bursting into flames 30-feet high.”

Nieto was talking about her epic musical production, which has become a Lenten tradition for Catholics in the Detroit area. The Cross and the Light is being presented this year in a concert format, with seven vocalists performing multiple roles. There will be 21 performances at five churches throughout southeastern Michigan.

The production has drawn praise from Father Eduardo Montemayor, associate director of the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization.

“It’s a treasure that we have right here in the Archdiocese of Detroit,” Father Montemayor said.

He outlined plans for providing follow-up, after people have encountered Christ at the performance. Volunteers are being prepared to assist with hospitality and ticket sales; but he is suggesting a third component to the churches: evangelization.

“We’re training volunteers to be able to proclaim the Gospel right afterward, in a simple way,” Father Montemayor explained.

With assistance from St. Paul Street Evangelization, volunteers are learning to talk with and encourage those who may have just come to an understanding of Christ, through brief personal encounters and small-table discussions at a reception in the parish halls.

“With a trained volunteer at each table,” Father Montemayor said, “asking just five or six thought-provoking questions, we could help people to open up.”

Act 2: The Empty Tomb to Pentecost

The popular musical, which was nominated for two prestigious Wilde awards in 2014, was originally created as a stage play. The play — or at least the first half of it, titled Living Stations of the Cross — was first performed in 2002 at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Farmington, Mich. As it grew in popularity, The Living Stations moved to Detroit’s Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, where it played to an audience totaling more than 22,000 on Lenten weekends in 2011 and 2012.

Father Charlie Fox, then-secretary to Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, said of the presentation, “My studies at the seminary are focused on the ‘New Evangelization.’ This is exactly what Pope John Paul II meant when he used that expression. It is a bridge between where people are and where God wants them to be.”

But for Nieto, the project didn’t end there. “Jesus had resurrected,” said Nieto, “but the apostles were still hiding in a locked room,” in terms of the play’s themes.

In 2012, God laid it on her heart to write Act 2, “The Empty Tomb to Pentecost.” While the Living Stations had told the Gospel story through Good Friday, The Cross and the Light carried the story through the Resurrection to Jesus’ ascension into heaven — and on to its dramatic and glorious conclusion with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, enabling the apostles to “make disciples of all nations.”

Last year during Holy Week, The Cross and the Light was performed by a 70-person cast, with a full stage set and theater lighting at Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts. This year, Nieto is taking it on the road as a concert experience — featuring seven performers each playing multiple roles.

In place of the bulky stage pieces, Nieto has turned to a state-of-the-art digital-imaging system that projects the background onto the venue’s walls utilizing multiple projectors.

The Cast

Nieto, a former Miss Michigan and former runner-up for Miss America, is no stranger to the stage.

She is a dynamic speaker, entertainer, fiddle player and musical comedienne and has opened for performers such as Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Kathy Mattea, Ray Stevens and Charlie Daniels.

So she speaks with experience when she says that the vocalists who perform in The Cross and the Light have just as much talent and professional energy as those well-known secular artists.

The cast includes Kenny Watson in the role of Jesus and artist Tim Bowman Jr., son of jazz legend Tim Bowman and nephew of gospel icons Vickie and CeCe Winans, as the doubting Thomas.

Other cast members include Beth Lackey, Ashley Rozanski, Bradley Ellison, Christiana Perrault and Blake Gronlund.

Ashley Rozanski, who plays the role of Mary Magdalen, said of her role, “It has been an honor to rejoin the cast of The Cross and the Light again this year following my performance as Mary Magdalene in last year’s production at Music Hall in Detroit. As a young [24-year-old] Catholic, I know how vital it is to continue to create and perform modern retellings of the greatest love story of all time.

Added Rozanski, “As a working actress in New York, it is even more special for me to come back to my hometown not only to perform, but to bring people to the foot of the cross. It wasn’t until this show that I realized this was my God-given mission. God has blessed me with talent — and sharing that talent by telling His story is truly life-changing for me. I’m excited to tour with this year’s concert-style production and to get to meet more young Catholics just like me.”

Hearts Ripped Open

Nieto recalls that the Church once relied on telling the Gospel story through beautiful artwork and stained glass. She hopes that, today, through music and technology, The Cross and the Light will tell the story to a new generation.

“This is a personal encounter with the Lord,” she said. “People come to this event, and their hearts are ripped open. We lead people to Christ, just like the apostles did at Pentecost.”

“So many people are hungering and thirsting for God,” she said, “and they just don’t know the beauty of the Church. They’ve learned about rules: ‘This is the ambo. You kneel here. You do this.’ But it’s like planting seeds in sidewalk cement. They’re never going to grow unless you tell them who Jesus is and what he has done for them.”

This impulse to evangelize for her may be surprising, as she did not grow up strong in faith, and as a young adult, she ventured into atheism and New Age spirituality — but the Stations of the Cross are key to her conversion.

After her conversion in 2000, as she was preparing to enter the Catholic Church, she attended the Stations of the Cross for the first time.

Praying the stations, she felt overwhelmed with grief and pain, and she understood for the first time the depth of Jesus’ love and sacrifice.

“It changed me forever,” Nieto recalled.

“I was inspired to write The Cross and the Light to give millions of other people that same understanding. In addition to raising my five children, this is my life’s mission.”

Register correspondent Kathy Schiffer writes from Southfield, Michigan.

INFORMATION

The Cross and the Light will be presented April 16-May 16 in southeastern Michigan. A schedule of current performances is available at the website CrossandLight.com
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‘The Cross and the Light’: Christian musical changes lives one church at a time

Published: Friday, May 01, 2015

By Gary Graff
Digital First Media

Click to enlarge

Seventeen years ago, Kelly Nieto found God. And Christianity. And a purpose in life that led to her musical, “The Cross and the Light,” which visits St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church on May 7 to 9.

The former Miss Michigan, Miss America runner-up and professional entertainer was at University of Michigan Hospital after learning that her mother was terminally ill. “I found myself on all fours in a bathroom, praying to God — ‘I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you are. I’ll do anything if you save my mother’s life,'” the Farmington native and resident recalls. “Long story short, mom is still here and doing fine. She is a miracle” — one that, Nieto notes, just ran a triathalon in Florida.

Her mother’s recovery led Nieto back to the church to “explore my Christianity.” She became a born-again Baptist and later entered the Catholic church, and in 2000, during a poorly attended Good Friday service, was inspired to create “The Cross and the Light,” an evangelistic musical retelling of the crucifixion and resurrection story that’s played to some 70,000 people since it debuted in 2002 as “The Living Stations of the Cross” at Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington. The piece — which has also played in Illinois and Australia — has been tweaked and expanded over the years, and this week it begins a month-long run in five Detroit area churches with a new, multi-media concert-style production that Nieto says is lighter, less expensive and will hopefully make it easier to reach more people.

“Before we had an epic production that cost about $400,000,” Nieto explains. “It’s hard to sustain that and sell tickets at that level, so we decided to change our business model so we could go back inside the churches with a concert experience. It’s three percent of the cost and I believe we’ll have 10 times to reach because it’s much easier to take it on tour.”

The new version of the show, which Nieto likes to call “a baptism of the imagination,” features seven singers — including national recording artist and Detroit native Tim Bowman, Jr., whose father is a noted area jazz musician, and Kenny Watson, who was nominated for a Wilde Award for his performance as Jesus — singing “The Cross and the Light’s” 24 pop/gospel songs. But even if the physical production is scaled down, Nieto promises it will still be an “immersive” experience thanks to environmental projections, a technology used in settings such as the Super Bowl that allows for scene changes without expensive props.

“It’s the best of both worlds — live singers but digital imagery that’s going to be 150 feet wide and 30 feet high,” Nieto gushes. “I can’t wait to see the audience when the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles and the walls of the church erupt into flames. Kids are going to love it. It’s the wow factor we need for people in our generation to connect with our story.”

And that connection has been what Nieto and her company — who will also be feeding audiences during the Last Supper scene — have been pursuing since day one with “The Cross and the Light.”

“It’s becoming a more immersive experience, a deeply moving musical journey that hits all of the senses,” Nieto says. “It’s something that’s really necessary. Have you ever seen a kid standing in front of a church wall looking at a statue for the Stations of the Cross? They don’t get it. They can’t connect with a plaque on the all.

“We’re literally taking it off the wall and putting it in front of them. It’s very contemporary. The singers will be wearing jeans, not (early A.D.) period clothing. When Jesus sings ‘Well They Even Care?’ you’ll see flashes of people going through their daily lives. We’re trying to bring this into the 21st century so that young people can connect with the story.”

“The Cross and the Light” has certainly been recognized for doing that in all its permutations during the past 15 years. In addition to the two Wilde Award nominations in 2014 the show has been praised by clergy with the Archdiocese of Detroit, whose theologians have also helped Nieto with her script. Father Charles Fox, former secretary to the Archbishop and currently teaching at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary, says the show “is exactly what Pope John Paul II mean when he used the term ‘the new evangelization. This is a bridge between where people are and where God wants them to be.”

Once the new concert production of “The Cross and the Light” is launched, Nieto hopes to roll it out nationally. The shows will be filmed and an album with the current cast will be recorded (another one recorded before the 2014 run at Detroit’s Music Hall has been available in limited fashion), and Nieto plans to use both as tools to shed more light on “The Cross and the Light.”

“Most people leave the performance very changed,” she says. “They come in one way, not knowing what to expect, and leave with their eyes wide open. This is something that can really deepen their faith.”

Tickets for “The Cross and the Light” range from $10 to $35 with group rates available. Call 734-788-7073 or visit CrossAndLight.com

to purchase.
 
 

Dramatic Performance Produced by Former Miss Michigan to be Featured at Catholic Youth Event

SAGINAW – “The Cross and the Light Concert Experience” will be performed at the upcoming MYE Faith youth event on Aug. 8, 2015 at Saginaw Valley State University. “The Cross and the Light Concert Experience” is a musical performance about Jesus produced by former Miss Michigan and Miss America Runner-up, Kelly Nieto.

“The Cross and the Light” has been performed for over 70,000 people around the world. Seven performers will travel from as far away as New York City for the youth event, including rising stars such as Tim Bowman, Jr., son of jazz legend Tim Bowman and nephew of gospel icons Vickie and CeCe Winans.

“As a musician, I’ve opened for Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and many others and the singers who will travel to Saginaw are just as talented,” said Nieto. She not only praises the talent of the cast, but also their generosity as well. For example, Nieto initially knew that she could not afford to hire Tim Bowman, Jr. after he secured a record contract with Capitol Records which released albums by artists such as Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and many others. Yet, Bowman enjoyed performing in the “Cross and the Light” so much that he agreed to continue doing so.

“The Cross and the Light Concert Experience” is one of the highlights planned for this summer’s youth event that will also include Mass with the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, an evening concert with JJ Weeks Band, breakout sessions with Kelly Nieto and others and much more.

MYE FAITH is a one-day event presented by the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw in which youth encounter Christ through the Eucharist, dynamic speakers, spirit-filled prayer, stirring music, and more. The theme for the 2015 youth event is “Got Love?” There is no fee for youth attendees and adult chaperones in the Diocese of Saginaw. Free bus transportation to and from the event is available. More information about the MYE Faith youth event can be found at myefaith.com

 

This Holy Week, Travel to Calvary and Beyond—With “The Cross and the Light”

March 23, 2013 by Kathy Schiffer 0 Comments

For just one week, the stage at Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts will be transformed into the hills and dusty roads near Jerusalem, as “The Cross and the Light” is performed live each day from Palm Sunday through Easter.

The acclaimed musical dramatization of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection is the creation of executive producer Kelly Nieto. The first half of the program, titled “The Living Stations of the Cross”, was produced first at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Farmington, Michigan—moving in 2011 to Detroit’s Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, where it attracted more than 22,000 audience members. This year for its debut at the Music Hall, Nieto has added a second act which covers the period from the Resurrection through Pentecost.

I wrote about“The Living Stations” when I first viewed the production two years ago; and I was even more enthused this year, watching the new cast and the new second act during the media night presentation this week. As originally presented, the production ended with the Crucifixion of Christ; and while you understood the victorious ending that was to come, nonetheless the crowd left the Cathedral subdued, reflective, even saddened. This time, watching Act 2 with its joyous presentation of the period following Christ’s Resurrection, the audience was enlivened and there was a happy buzz as people rose to their feet to applaud the performers.

The talented cast of the epic production includes 45 professional and amateur actors including Kenny Watson as Jesus, and Candice Jackson portraying Mary Magdalen. Watson has toured nationally and internationally, and has vocal versatility that spans across the genres of R&B, jazz, alternative, classical and hip-hop. He is engaged in social activism, serving as co-music director and headline performer for AfroFlow, a cancer awareness initiative of the American Cancer Society. Candice Jackson is an accomplished actress and singer, worship arts director at Faith Church in Lansing, and has performed in opening acts for well-known individuals including Mandisa from “American Idol”, Kurt Cameron from “Growing Pains” and Governor Mike Huckabee.

Other cast members include Julie Craigo (Michigan Opera Theatre) as the Blessed Mother, Brian Leduc(Michigan Opera Theatre) as Peter, andMatthew Peckham (Ann Anbor Ballet Theatre, Spotlight Players, Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, Comic Opera Guild, U-Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society, U-M Opera Studio) in the role of St. Thomas the Apostle.

Kelly Nieto, executive producer whose vision brought the story to the stage, is a former Miss Michigan, Miss America Runner Up, and Miss America Talent Winner. She is a dynamic entertainer, fiddle player, and musical comedienne, and has performed her one-woman show in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, on cruise ships, and for corporations worldwide, as well as performing the opening act for Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and Charlie Daniels. She has emceed the Miss Michigan Pageant for 23 years and recently emceed the Miss America Pageant Prelim nights in Las Vegas. Kelly is married and has five children, ages 6 to 18.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about the production, show times, or to purchase tickets, visit www.crossandlight.com
 
 
 

Spiritual rebirth led former Miss Michigan to create a musical version of the Passion play opening Detroit Music Hall today

Posted on March 24, 2013 by menblog

By John Monaghan Detroit Free Press Special Writer March 24, 2013
 

Religious inspiration comes in many forms. Kelly Garver Nieto’s hit her like a ton of Babylon bricks while she was attending her first-ever Good Friday service in 2000. It was while praying the Stations of the Cross, which uses 14 sequential images to depict the crucifixion of Jesus, that the former nonbeliever experienced what she calls a “life-changing vision.”

“I looked at the altar and saw all the details of this grand theatrical production,” the entertainer and former Miss Michigan remembers. “And I heard God say, ‘This is why you are here.’ I knew in my soul that this would become my life’s mission.”

More than a decade and 40,000 viewers later, her musical Passion play arrives at Music Hall tonight for an 11-performance run that continues through Easter. Titled “The Cross and the Light” and costing an estimated $400,000, the show uses Broadway-style sets, costumes and lighting to bring Christ’s final hours to life.

The show is an expansion of Nieto’s previous show, “The Living Stations of the Cross,” which was first performed in 2002 at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Farmington and moved in 2011 to the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. Nieto steadily tweaked and refined the show over the years.

The new version ends not with Christ being laid in a tomb (the traditional end for a Stations story) but with his resurrection. It also has a more diverse cast that features local jazz and R&B singer Kenny Watson in the role of Jesus.

“You could say that the previous shows were kind of preaching to the choir,” Nieto says. “We really wanted to broaden our audience to all religious denominations. There are many people who would not go to a cathedral to see a theatrical performance. By using Music Hall, all faiths will feel welcome to share in this timeless Christian story of salvation.”

Spiritual awakening

The road to “The Cross and the Light” has been a long one for Nieto. She was born in Detroit, but her family moved when she was in the fourth grade to Farmington Hills. Aside from attending an occasional Lutheran service, she was raised with little exposure to religion. When she was in her teens and 20s, she began experimenting with various forms of spiritual expression, including what she now calls “New Age occult.”

“My life made no sense to me,” says Nieto, 49. “I would go to psychics and would channel the spiritual entity of souls from the dead, including an Indian. … The big change came when I was told that my mother was going to die. I found none of the things in the New Age had helped me at that moment.”

She made a pact with God and promised to devote herself to Him if her ailing mother’s life was spared. It was. “My mother just turned 75 and ran her first half-triathlon in Florida,” says Nieto, who became a born-again Christian in 1998 and a Catholic in 2000.

The Farmington Hills wife and mother of five has spent most of her adult life working as an entertainer and speaker and on the pageant circuit. She was crowned Miss Michigan in 1986, was third runner-up to Miss America 1987 and has been emcee of the Miss Michigan pageant for 23 years. A fiddle player and musical comedian, she has performed one-woman shows for corporate events and aboard cruise ships and also been an opening act for country artists Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson and Charlie Daniels.

Despite her experience in show business, Nieto had no idea what to do when she felt moved to turn her “Stations” show into a full-blown musical.

“Each one of the songs was born out of prayer,” she says. “I would sit in church for hours and beg God to allow me to know what Jesus experienced in the Garden (of Gethsemane). I wanted to write in a way that people would feel as if they were there and understood his angst.”

When song lyrics and basic melodies began occurring to her, she turned to songwriter Nick Dalbis of White Lake Township to turn her musical ideas into finished works. Those tunes, with titles like “In My Name” and “The Greatest Miracle of All,” are performed in “The Cross and the Light” by actors who sing over recorded musical tracks.

Nieto reached out similarly for help with financing her show. (Ticket sales can’t cover all the costs.) Various businesses and organizations responded, including Comerica Bank and Our Sunday Visitor Catholic Publishing Co., which contributed $30,000 for the set.

Faithful to the book

Some viewers might consider “The Cross and the Light” a cross between a traditional Passion play and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but Nieto is rankled by that comparison. Her show, she notes, takes great pains with biblical accuracy.

“We made sure that our script, including the lyrics, was reviewed by our spiritual director, Father Charles Fox from the Archdiocese of Detroit,” she says. “We didn’t want to take any theatrical liberty with the authentic story. For instance, in Judas’ song ‘Three Years,’ it took three rewrites so that it didn’t imply things that did not stay true to the biblical story.”

Still, she believes that “The Cross and the Light” holds appeal for audience members of many faiths.

“If you love musicals, you will love this show. If you’re a theatergoer, you will love the stage production. And if you love Jesus, you will love this experience because it is so life-changing.”

Watson, the singer-actor who plays Jesus, shares Nieto’s enthusiasm. Though he was trained in more secular musical styles, he found himself embracing the show’s challenging songs, which rely heavily on vocal strength instead of the “tricks and ornamentation” that sometimes mark a jazz or pop tune.

He also found his role challenging emotionally and physically, especially while hanging from the cross.

“Playing Jesus is obviously very humbling,” he says. “Just to look down, with blood all over me, and see the faces of those around me. It changed my perspective forever on what Christ went through with the actual bruises, scars and death awaiting.”

Spreading the word

Melanie Mebus, a parishioner at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Grosse Pointe Farms, saw Nieto’s show for the first time last year.

“I went in blind,” she remembers. “I really didn’t have any expectations beyond that it was a biblical re-enactment. The music, the production just blew me away.”

Once the lights came up, she decided she had to meet the woman responsible for it. She developed a relationship with Nieto and is now on the board of directors for Living Faith, a nonprofit group created by Nieto to help low-income children get free tickets for “The Cross and the Light.”

Mebus has donated money to the production and will help sell Christian jewelry, scarves, hats and T-shirts in the lobby this week to raise money for Living Faith.

“It was so deep, so profound. It really touched my soul,” Mebus says. “Whether you have faith or not, you have to appreciate how this is such a personal story, and so beautifully set to music. It reminds me of a Disney production. It is that top-notch.”

She plans to see “The Cross and the Light” this week with several groups of viewers, one of which will include her 17-year-old daughter.

“She has been telling all of our friends to see it,” Mebus says. “When you have a show that affects teenagers this much, there must be something to it.”

CONTACT FREE PRESS SPECIAL WRITER: MADJOHN@EARTHLINK.NET

 

Deepen Your Lenten Experience With “Living Stations of the Cross”

February 26, 2012 by Kathy Schiffer 2 Comments

Looking for a way to deepen your Lenten experience this year? If you’re in southeastern Michigan, consider attending a performance of The Living Stations of the Cross at Detroit’s Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Read the story:

The music minister opened the door of the confessional, and it was stuffed top to bottom with garbage bags. The smell and dust was horrible. As I moved one of the bags, a small, wooden suitcase fell out from the top of the bags and landed on my foot. I sat down on the floor and opened it.

What I saw next will be with me until the day I die. Sitting in that dusty old suitcase, for over fifteen years, was a bloody crown of thorns and a purple sash. I started sobbing. God is so good!

In addition to the crown of thorns, Kelly Garver Nieto found over 60 costumes that day, piled in an unused confessional in an eastside Detroit area church. That was the beginning of the Living Stations of the Cross.

Nieto, a former Miss Michigan, Miss America Runner-Up, and Miss America Talent Winner, has performed as the opening act for Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and Charlie Daniels. She is a former atheist who embraced the Catholic faith after exploring the occult and the New Age.

Kelly explains that Living Stations is a “vision” that God put on her heartwhile praying the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday in 2000. She felt a great spiritual pain during the Sixth Station. When Kelly looked at the altar, she saw Living Stations and heard God’s voice say, “This is why you are here.” She knew she had been called for this work, but didn’t know how she could ever make it happen.

God heard her prayers; and with the help of many, Kelly created and produced The Living Stations of the Cross in her local parish for over ten years. To bring the story to the masses, Kelly brought Living Stations to Detroit’s Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in 2011. Over 11,000 people experienced this epic theatrical event last year; and in 2012, attendance is expected to reach over 22,000.

Living Stations has been described as the “Broadway version of the Passion of Christ” because of its professionalism, original musical score and epic theatrical production! Don’t miss this powerful prayer on the altar of the historic Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, Michigan during Lent 2012. Living Stations is based on the Stations of the Cross celebrated by Pope John Paul II in 1991 on Good Friday. These Stations reflect deeply on the Scriptural accounts of Jesus Christ’s Passion to prepare Christians, both Catholic and Protestant alike, for Holy Week.

Living Stations is an experiential musical journey through Christ’s Passion and an interactive prayer engaging all of the senses. It is a spiritual wake-up call; a visual realization of what Christ went through on the Cross. The music envelops and propels the participants through the story and each feels truly present at the foot of the cross, not just as an observer, but as an active participant in salvation history. School children and seniors enjoy the convenience of the matinee show times, while families, church groups and individuals attend the weekend performances. Catholic couples also find Living Stations to be an ideal way for them to grow in love for each other and for Christ. But not all of the participants are Catholic, or even religious. Some attend simply in search of a cultural experience.

Performances run from March 16 through April 1. For ticket information, visit their website.

Even Better! Experience the Living Stations and Help a Pro-Life Organization

Some of you may know that I serve on the board of Mother and Unborn Baby Care. Since 1984, Mother and Unborn Baby Care has been dedicated to stopping abortions by helping women continue their pregnancies in a normal, healthy manner through peer counseling which is pro-life, persuasive, informative and honest, but sensitive to the emotional and material needs of the mother.

Plan to attend the Living Stations on Saturday, March 17, at 5:00 p.m.—and 15% of your ticket price will help this pro-life organization to continue their important work. Reserve your tickets through the MAUBC button on the website to reserve your tickets for the March 17 performance. I look forward to seeing you there!

 

Farmington Woman Brings Catholic Tradition to the Stage

‘Living Stations of the Cross’ began in Farmington, now expands to Detroit.

By Karla Dorweiler (Open Post) – April 3, 2011 12:14 am ET

Eleven years ago on Good Friday, Kelly Nieto sat weeping in the pews at in Farmington.

The Farmington resident and her husband, Dominic, had just attended the Stations of the Cross—a Catholic Lenten devotion reflecting on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Nieto was affected profoundly by the experience.

“I felt God’s presence,” she said. “I knew that I was being called to do something more with this amazing message of the Passion of Christ.”

Two years after that day at Our Lady of Sorrows, Nieto directed the church’s first The Living Stations of the Cross, a dramatic re-enactment of the traditional prayer. Nieto wrote the script, added music, and created a set inside the church.

Parishioners took on roles as actors, singers, stage crew, lighting specialists, and costume designers.

“By acting this out for audiences, they become part of the scene and invest in the characters in a whole different way,” Nieto said.

From the beginning, each year’s presentation drew larger crowds than the year before. Nieto was certain that people would respond to a similar production on a larger scale.

In 2010, Nieto received approval from the Archdiocese of Detroit to form an apostolate. The non-profit organization produces the theatrical presentation, licenses its music, and trains other churches and schools around the country to do the presentation.

On Friday night, Nieto’s Living Faith Fine Arts Apostolate took to the stage—that is, the altar—of the Most Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit for The Living Stations of the Cross. The cast of professional actors and singers will perform 25 shows with a backdrop of $15,000 in sets and $25,000 in lighting and special effects.

Nieto stays behind the scenes as producer and director, but she’s familiar with being in the spotlight, too. In 1986, she was the third-runner up for Miss America, after first being crowned Miss Farmington and then Miss Michigan. She then spent 10 years performing a one-woman show as a fiddle player and comedian, opening for performers such as Charlie Daniels, Garth Brooks and David Copperfield.

Nieto’s musical background served her well in this new endeavor. She wrote original music for the Living Stations cathedral show with songwriter Nick Dablis of Crossroads Productions in White Lake.

“It’s not your typical Catholic music,” said Nieto. “It’s contemporary, and something people will remember and truly be inspired by.”

Nieto encourages people of all faiths to see the production.

“This is certainly a sacred tradition in the lives of Catholics all over the world. But this musical transcends to non-Catholics and non-believers alike,” she said. “It’s a form of entertainment in the way the movie The Passion of the Christ with Mel Gibson was.”

She is working to expand the production to five major cities next year.

For now, Nieto is thrilled to be sharing the story with a larger audience at the cathedral.

The Living Stations of the Cross will be performed at Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit through April 17, with matinee and evening performances. Tickets are $15, or $5 for obstructed view seats. Several shows have already sold out. 

In addition to the Broadway-style production downtown, the original The Living Stations of the Cross at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church will be performed by parishioners on April 15 and April 17 at 8 p.m.