"Judah Ben-Hur", takes place in Jerusalem in 30-33A.D. The city simmers with political unrest and uncertainty under the iron fist of Rome.
Judah Ben-Hur is a Prince of Jerusalem who finds his family torn apart by the betrayal of Messala, Ben-Hur's childhood friend and recently appointed Commandant of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. Judah Ben-Hur is sentenced to row in the galley of a Roman warship; his mother and sister are condemned to prison.
The play is centered on Judah Ben-Hur's eventual liberation from the galley and his efforts to find his mother and Sister. He is helped by the love and support of Esther, the woman he intends to marry. He finds that not only must he deal with his enemies,, but with the intense hatred that burns within him and spurs him on to revenge.
While being taken from Jerusalem to the ship, he has a brief encounter with "The Man From Nazareth", who is teaching and performing miracles. The mercy shown by this man as well as his dominating presence leaves a lasting impression on Ben-Hur.
Having saved the life of the fleet Admiral while at sea, he is released and returns to Jerusalem to seek his sister and mother. He is told that they have died in prison. Intent on revenge, he arranges to race in the arena against his former friend turned enemy, Mesalla. He is encouraged in his effort by "Sheik Ilderum, The Generous", a jolly Arabian horse trader who tells him, "A death in the arena would prompt no investigation, no trial". This sets the stage for the unforgettable chariot race sequence that is known world wide as the high point of the story.
Esther finds Ben-Hur's mother and sister in the valley of the lepers where they have gone upon being released from prison. Dying from leprosy, they are both healed by "The Man From Nazareth".
Upon winning the chariot race, in which Messala is killed, Ben-Hur returns home to find his mother and sister, along with Esther, waiting for him. He realizes that revenge and bitterness are not the answer to life's problems and joins them in committing his life to love and forgiveness.
The play is a heart-warming combination of music, adventure, love, and comedy that will be the highlight of the theatre season.
Copyright 2001. Ellen Sanborn and David M. Sanborn.
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