It's a sappy little show, really. Made into a stage play from a popular children's book. A fairly predictable story and script. Hoodlum kids invade the church's Christmas pageant. True meaning of Christmas "works its magic" and lives are changed. Everyone lives happily ever after.
We walk in some pretty deep footprints with this show. Creating storybook characters is tricky business, because when you read the book, you create the image in your imagination. Remember worrying if Harry Potter was going to be just like you imagined him? Or Frodo? Or Aslan? Would what you saw on the screen (or stage) live up to your imagination? The true Reader will tell you that the book is always better, so trying to bring to life the classic characters of Beth, Alice, Imogene, Gladys, Ralph, Mrs. Bradley is really going out on a limb.
But my kids--AND my adults--do it. They do it, and then some, making the characters their own. My adults: Rachelle, Kelly, Michael, Frances, Mona, Joe, and the rest--they've taken some fairly one-dimensional characters and brought them into 3-D, multi-dimmensional life. They've done a great job.
But my kids...oh, those kids...
They made me cry today. After 35 rehearsals and...six performances...still today, they 'got' me. Make no mistake, we pull out all the stops. The Herdmans smack each other so hard during the 'disruptive' scenes that you can hear the thumps and the slaps at the back of the auditorium. They race up and down the aisle at break-neck speed and get EVERYONE'S attention. Alice's disdain and perfectness are enough to make even model children gag. We use music to create a mood...and lights...the light on the manger, the spot on the family... Megan's timing on her heartfelt moments of understanding of the story...looking at the baby, laying in the manger, covering it, and leaving it...looking back...and leaving. And yes, Joe and Dennis, adding in the angel choir at the manger was the ne plus ultra. We've put together a beautiful little piece of theatre, if I do say so myself. And we're touching people. Making family memories. Creating a little Christmas magic all our own.
It's a wonderful show. It is. And it deserves an audience. We performed today the second of our matinees and it was a delightful experience. Sold out. The kids are truly the best audiences. They laugh and applaud. And then, they got quiet. They got it. We ALL got it. And, if you open your heart to the story, you will, too.
"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever". It is. Go see it.