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Despite setbacks from COVID-19, the Valley of Cincinnati hosted an inspiring performance of the 27th degree live for brethren on February 18, 2021.

In unprecedented times, Scottish Rite Masons find a way to overcome obstacles and continue their commitment to caring for their communities. When it comes to our brotherhood, this couldn’t be more true as the Valley of Cincinnati demonstrated this February with a stunning performance of the 27° live during Thursday Night at the Rite.

A picture of the Scottish Rite actors and production crew filming
The actors and production team introduce the degree to a livestream audience

“As the pandemic continued to crush the aspirations of our Valleys excited to bring the core values of our Rite to our brothers, an officer from the Valley of Cincinnati, WB Ross Sherman cornered me with a challenging idea. Thursday Night at the Rite has (and continues to) keep the flame of enlightenment alive through our current adversity so, why couldn’t the Valley of Cincinnati live stream a degree to its members over the Valley’s website? A novel idea that begged the question: what if we took it to the edge? What if we streamed it to our entire membership?” said Illustrious M. Todd McIntosh, 33°, Active for Ohio on how the concept for a live production came to be.

Originally scheduled to accompany the season two premiere of Thursday Night at the Rite, the live performance of Knight of Jerusalem had to be postponed when COVID forced key production staff to quarantine just days before the cameras were set to roll.

“An abundance of caution called for a recorded back-up just in case we had a second set back. Completed a week before our new live date, it did not transmit with intact audio. Video issues, scheduling, and the ever-present boogie man of Covid-19 tweaked our nerves. At many times, it felt like holding a roman candle by the wrong end. I was holding my breath for fear that if I exhaled, we’d be cancelled before we even hit the stage,” said Illustrious M. Todd McIntosh, 33°, Active for Ohio.

Fortunately, the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction is no stranger to turning on a dime; when the pandemic first took hold in early 2020, our Reunion season and fraternal events were promptly put on hold.

Quick thinking, creative brainstorming, and tireless effort from Supreme Council staff brought forth a series of one-of-a-kind virtual Masonic events in 2020 - Virtual Reunions, Join the Rite Night, and Thursday Night at the Rite - that have helped engage and inspire brethren and welcome new Masons to our fraternity.

In speaking about the collaboration between the Supreme Council and the Valley of Cincinnati, Illustrious M. Todd Mcintosh, 33°, said “The fantastic innovations that the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction has implemented confirms his exciting grasp of the future yet, pragmatically, when considering cockamamie ideas from his Active Members, he also requires at least a modicum of aspirational certainty. Pitching a never-before done, absolutely live presentation to the entire jurisdiction certainly seemed to confirm the former and fail the latter. “Tell me, Todd, what could go wrong” he asked. Taking a deep breath, I replied ” absolutely nothing…absolutely everything”. With some well-placed reservations, he gave us the shot.”

Scottish Rite Masons act out a scene on a temple set
Scottish Rite Masons from the Valley of Cincinnati perform the 27th degree
Scottish Rite Masons prepare for a live performance
Supreme Council and production staff assist Valley actors

Working closely with the Supreme Council, the Valley of Cincinnati rallied together to bring a livestream showing of the fan-favorite 27° to over 2,000 Scottish Rite Masons during Thursday Night at the Rite!

A computer showing viewership for a live presentation
The live degree production premiered in front of thousands of Scottish Rite Masons

We’d like to extend our sincere appreciation to all who helped pull together this memorable performance, including Supreme Council staff Ill. Jim Dill, 33°, and Erik Fattrosso, as well as the behind-the-scenes crew in Cincinnati: Brothers Dave Olmstead, 33°, Ron Thomas, Dan Woodburn, MSA, Rodney Hummer, MSA, Ernie Brown, Ross Sherman, Mike Phillips MSA, Kyle Evans MSA and Bob Dumford, 33°.

Three Masons dressed in costume pose on a production set
Brothers from the Valley of Cincinnati in costume

And let’s not forget the amazing cast: Brothers Brent Gross, Andy Clawson, Jeff Bickel, Ian Kerr, Nathan Trester, Josh Lansdale, Ill. Michael Himes, Cameron Shandersky (pope), Chris Goodin (emperor), and Director Bill Mallard, Jr., who pulled the event through the eye of the needle.

Each one of you helped demonstrate to brethren from all across the jurisdiction what it means to live a life guided by our Core Values.

A cast of Scottish Rite Masons poses in front of their production set.
The actors and production crew behind the Valley of Cincinnati’s live production of the 27th degree.

This article originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of The Northern Light.

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