Mt. Morris church, PAG presenting play with Chicago actor March 22-24


MT. MORRIS — A Chicago-area actor will take the stage in Mt. Morris next month to bring a unique perspective to a centuries-old event.

Tom McElroy will star in “Heaven, How I Got Here,” a one-man play imagining the story of the thief crucified next to Jesus Christ.

The play will be presented by the Evangelical Free Church of Mt. Morris in collaboration with the Performing Arts Guild at the Pinecrest Grove Community Theatre, 500 Evergreen Lane.

Performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 24.

McElroy is a seasoned veteran of the stage, television, film, and radio. Over the past 20-plus years he honed his skills in Chicago and regional theater and then broke into television and film.

TV roles include Early Edition, Chicago Code, Prison Break (recurring), Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and more.

McElroy’s film appearances include The Dark Knight, What If...? , Southside With You, The Law of Moises, The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, and Pardoned by Grace.

For several years, he was also the voice of “Unshackled!,” the longest-running radio drama in history.

McElroy grew up in Zion north of Chicago and has always known acting was his calling, although he didn’t make it his full-time profession until he was 38 years old.

“Essentially I was born with it, but it was muffled,” he said with a grin. “I grew up in a conservative home. We didn’t go the movies.”

He acted in skits at school and church, as well as high school plays, which earned him a best actor in the school award.

He said it was during a “holy moment” backstage while portraying Christ in the Zion Passion Play that he knew he wanted to go into acting full-time.

McElroy said he is looking forward to playing the thief on the cross in the upcoming production in Mt. Morris.

“I love the play,” he said. “It’s a journey that’s wonderfully made. I can relate to every part of the role.”

McElroy and his wife live in a northern suburb of Chicago. They have five children between them and eight grandchildren.

The play is based on a book of the same name, written by Colin Smith, senior pastor of The Orchard, a multi-campus church in the Chicago area. Tim Gregory wrote the play’s script.

McElroy said he hopes the audiences will come away from the production with a deeper understanding of the gospel.

“I hope that they will really fully connect with what Jesus did for them on the cross, and if they don’t know him, they will soon,” he said.

Tickets for “Heaven, How I Got Here” are $5 each and all are general admission. To order call 815-734-4942 or reserve online at

Doors will open a half hour before each show. Refreshments will be served afterward.

The play is not recommended for children younger than 10.

The Evangelical Free Church of Mt. Morris is located at 102 S. Seminary Ave. Worship services are held each Sunday at 10 a.m. preceded by Sunday School for all ages at 8:30 a.m. Childcare is available for children younger than four years old.

For more information call 815-734-4942.