Brook Leal, left, and Lessie Smithheisler, right, dance to the song “Bubbling Joy” during a dress rehearsal of the play “Splash Kingdom” Thursday at the First Church of Nazarene. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Leslie Radford: CNJ Staff writer
The children at the First Church of the Nazarene in Clovis have their beach balls ready as they pull their shades down tight ready for the weekend premier of the musical “Splash Kingdom.”
The slip-and-slide mission of the group of youngsters on summer break is to get to Splash Kingdom, a fictitous water park that symbolizes heaven in the play that teaches the importance of getting to know Christ, said children’s pastor Becca Gossman.
Gossman said the gates of the waterpark are like the gates of heaven, and in order to get to Splash Kingdom, each child has to learn the ABCs of salvation: Admit they have sinned, Believe in the Lord and claim Jesus as their savior.
Sporting arm floaties, an innertube and flippers because he is terrified he might drown (…or not be saved, in this case), Tanner Seafish, played by 11-year-old Jared Davis, finds out as the group ventures to Splash Kingdom that Jesus accepts everyone.
“(Tanner) respresents that it doesn’t matter who you are, anyone can be saved, even if they’re afraid,” Davis said. “That’s why I have all this life-saving gear on.”
Only a few children seem to be nervous about performing on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Lisa Stanley said her daughter, Aleeja, comes home singing the songs she’s learned.
“This is the first practice I have actually sat in on,” Stanley said. “Aleeja was kind of nervous about performing in front of a group of people. Her dad goes through her lines with her at home.”
Gossman said the group began practicing in January for the musical that includes 10 songs the children dance and sing with on stage.
Kelcee Jones, 10, plays Shelly Bubbles in Sunday morning’s performance. She said she’s not nervous at all.
“It wasn’t hard to memorize our lines or anything,” she said claiming her favorite part “is at the end where we slide down Eternal Life Mountain.”