Shazam! Its “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”
Stars and Stripes November 7, 2023
When Gladys Herdman, as the Angel of the Lord, shouts, “Shazam! …the mighty Marvel,” we know this will be a Christmas story told like no other. In fact, her siblings, the rest of the six rough and rowdy Herdmans want to bring a Herod smackdown into the story, change the wise men’s traditional gifts and wonder how any innkeeper could turn away a pregnant lady. Come to think of it, the suggested title “Revenge at Bethlehem” may be better than just “Pageant”.
A play within a play, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is a youth production at the KMC Onstage Studio told with the energy befitting a cussing, smoking Herdman from the original novel. From the beginning, our talented narrator Beth Bradley let’s us peak into the events surrounding a typical church Christmas Pageant gone horribly wrong.
Directed by Julie Phillips and Ann Pinson, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever features a cast of 23 extremely talented young people who can switch between multiple roles with agility. The Bradley family shines with their wholesome behavior and funny mix of sarcasm that contrasts perfectly with the Herdman kids’ loud wit and brashness. In fact, the fear of these bullies is visible in all the church kids, especially Elmer. The church ladies were not to be bothered, however, and the audience got quite a kick out of Mrs. Clausing’s ‘old lady’ voice and Mrs. Armstrong’s attitude.
With a newly raised stage, the Studio space at the KCAC has much improved site lines. It’s simple, bright set changes seamlessly between the Bradley’s home and the church. One key to the performance’s success is the all-youth stage management, light and sound team. Even with the Studio’s stage improvements, a black box feel has been retained with the floor space still being used to its maximum for audience interaction. Kids sitting along the edges lit up as performers took their places amongst them.
The space offers open seating, so show up early to snag one in the front. Early arrival will also mean you can take advantage of the fun Christmas photo opportunities throughout the theater and grab a treat from the extensive snack bar. Come prepared to get into the holiday spirit!
A final rehearsal of the pageant never comes to fruition. Between the chaos of controlling a room full of kids and Imogen Herdman smoking cigars in the bathroom, the fire department (with its hysterical age range) ends up at the church to close out the night. But all is not lost, and the Herdman kids, especially Imogen, turn the pageant into a personal story not soon forgotten.
In the end, we find that we’ve learned a lesson from the Herdman’s after all: Christmas may be a little more meaningful when it isn’t perfect.
Don’t miss the final show weekend:
Note that some Stars and Stripes employees, reviewers and their families volunteered with this performance at KMC Onstage.