As Pasadena Little Theatre continues its 60th year – the Diamond Jubilee – by showcasing its Yuletide special, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson, the audience wonders if the theater and they are going to be disappointed. The obvious reason would be the DREADED SIX HERDMAN CHILDREN have come to the church! The church thought surely the worst had already happened when Mrs. Armstrong (Katie Reed), who had ALWAYS done the pageant, broke her leg. Who in the world would take the job?
And then the Herdman Children!! Known all over town as the absolute WORST kids anywhere, the only reason they came to the church was because they heard there were always refreshments. The focus family, headed by Bob Bradley (Keith Turman) and his wife, Grace (Maria Miller), have a teenaged daughter, Beth (Alexandra Ross), who is often the Narrator. Their young son, Charlie (Ashton Davis) is tormented constantly by the Herdman’s oldest boy, Leroy (Ever Lopez), so Charlie felt the church was his only refuge. AND NOW…
Everyone wants (and sometimes claims) to have the BEST ‘anything.’
Grace Bradley agrees (?) to take over the pageant, but what to do with the Herdmans, who have NEVER even heard the real story of Christmas and know absolutely nothing about the Bible? The overbearing oldest boy, Leroy; trash-mouth oldest girl, Imogene (Lindsey Bochat), and even the younger girls (Rachel, Claudette, and Gladys) make scandalous remarks about the Bible story of Jesus’ birth. Never having heard of “swaddling clothes”, one thought it was “Wadded up clothes”.
One thought the information came straight out of the FBI files and another said it was part of a space odyssey! (My first reaction? Shock and SHAME ON YOU! Second thought? Wait a minute, these are kids who have never been taught – never seen a Bible. What would you expect? Third thought? This is fiction – are there children right in our area who fit the mold?)
The preacher’s son has always been Joseph – now wild Leroy Herdman insists on being Joseph and trash-mouth Imogene demands to be Mary! Rambunctious Gladys Herdman (Netanya Nicole) is to be the Announcing Angel – instead of the traditional, “I bring you good tidings”, Gladys belts out “SHAZAM!” to the shepherds! What more could happen to poor Grace’s attempts to organize a Christmas pageant?
Ollie Herdman (Connor Muse) becomes a wise man or shepherd – whichever strikes his fancy; a fire erupts in the church kitchen – dress rehearsal dissolves.
Even though there was ample opportunity to turn the “real Christmas Story” into a farce, surprisingly the important message was retained. Avry Diaz read the scripture beautifully. Delightfully, they did have the “Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Craig Trauschke directs all the wild happenings into an enjoyable, sensitive show.
Come see it at PLT on weekends through Sunday, December 21. As of opening night on Friday, December 5, three performances were already sold out! Call 713-941-1758 for reservations…but hurry. It’s a jewel in the season’s entertainment choices for the area.
Written by: Gloria W. Smith