HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – After one cancelled season of theater performances and two semesters of online performances, Holyoke Community College opens its doors to thespians and residents alike for a night of theater.

On November 18th HCC will debut its Fall 2021 production of “Jesus Hopped the A Train”, which focuses on topics such as incarceration, race, and religion.

The production is set in New York City’s infamous Riker’s Island prison with the two main protagonists facing murder charges. Angel Cruz is charged with attempted murder, his fate largely in the hands of Mary Jane Hanrahan, his public defender, while Lucius Jenkins is facing extradition to the state of Florida on multiple murder charges. The two men meet in the 23-hour, lockdown protective custody wing of Rikers Island, newly taken over by the menacing guard Valdez who replaces the more mild, easy-going D’Amico. 

The HCC Theater Department will showcase “Jesus Hopped the A Train” from November 18-20, at 7:30 p.m. in HCC’s Leslie Phillips Theater along with a matinee performance on Sat., Nov. 20, at 2:00 p.m. The theater performance on Nov. 19 will be ASL interpreted and closed captioned.

Tickets are $5 and will be available one hour before the show at the Leslie Phillips Box Office, or by calling 413-552-2528 to reserve tickets.

Seating capacity will be limited and socially distanced. All audience members will be required to wear masks at all times. This show contains material not suited to audiences below the age of 13. 

Race is a dominant theme in this play and will feature students of color to represent and embody the characters stories. “The play puts a spotlight on race relations,” said director and HCC Alum, Axel Cruz. “We have Valdez, a man of color, completely torturing this black man, so what does it mean to have this kind struggle between a black man and Hispanic man.”

Angel will be played by HCC student Edward Rodriguez of Springfield, who is Puerto Rican. Angel’s ‘unethical lawyer’ will be portrayed by Mary Jane Hanrahan HCC theater alum Lauren Bailey of Chicopee, who is white. The serial killer Lucius Jenkins will be portrayed by HCC student Richard Parris Scott of Springfield, who is black. Lastly, the ‘sadistic guard’ will be plated by Valdez, HCC student Miguel Perez of Springfield, who is Hispanic.