For this Christmas season, St. John’s Theatre put on a production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, based on Barbara Robinson’s book, which shows the struggles that play directors can often face, specifically in plays involving lots of children.
It opens with a spotlight on the narrator, Beth Bradley (Teresa Knestout ’20). She brings the viewers into her world and reveals the antagonists of the story, the Herdmans. They are a delinquent group of six siblings that are outsiders to the wealthier community, as they come from a low-income family and are outright bullies to everyone. Beth’s mother, Grace Bradley (Sophie Ryan ’19), is ultimately pressured into becoming into being the director of the Christmas pageant. She appears to already be struggling to get the pageant together, and her problems only get worse when the Herdmans are notified of the pageant accidentally by Grace’s son, Charlie (Will Carey ’22). Things get even rougher from there, as the Herdmans bring their rude attitude to the pageant and really just act however they want to, starting fights with other kids and saying mean things.
Despite the Herdmans’ antics in the beginning, they surprisingly have a change of heart and really start to care about the pageant and Christmas itself. Come showtime, the pageant goes very well. Everybody comes together, and it is a great Christmas story.
After that, there were some Christmas songs sung by the cast, and a grand finale of “Joy to the World” for the crowd to participate in. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a great family play and it was the perfect way to start off the holiday season.
St. John’s Theatre did a great job of bringing this story to the stage. One could see from the first scene that the Bradleys were a pretty typical family of four, eating dinner together at the table every night and talking about everything that’s going on. On the other hand, it was obvious that the Herdmans were the complete opposite. They all had on ripped and dirty clothing and were smoking cigars and using chewing tobacco, compared, for example, with the innocent Charlie Bradley, who has on a football jersey and jeans.
Ultimately, the play was acted to near perfection with little to no errors throughout the show. Also, thanks to a great job from the stage crew, the play flowed extremely well from scene to scene. Overall, it was a well-designed play in which all factors worked together very well to form one great production.