This family-friendly comedy follows a couple as they struggle to produce a church Christmas pageant. Working with kids can be challenging, but this couple is faced with a bigger challenge — the Herdman kids. The audience will not believe the mayhem that ensues as the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story. This comedic tale is an adaptation from Robinson’s bestselling book by the same name.
When asked why he chose this particular play as the Showboat finale of the year, Keith Skluzacek, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Entertainment specialist, said, “I wanted to close this year with a family-oriented presentation and I’ve always like this feel-good piece, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is a great show for this time of year — people are stressed and everyone wants to laugh, relax and enjoy themselves. This show allows audience members to do that. The fact that the bulk of the cast is comprised of children is an added bonus.”
Three of Sgt. William and Cassandra Stream’s daughters perform in the production. “Keith has been very patient with these children. He’s paid special attention to teaching them to project their voices.
The cast and directors —the kids helping each either other out — all of it has been amazing. I think many of them overcame their stage fright with this experience,” said Cassandra Stream. Family member Wendy Witman Cobb serves as assistant director and plays a lead role. “I’ve been in three productions this year, but this is my first time working behind the scenes on a play and I’ve had a lot of fun. I love the Showboat Theatre. Working with Keith and Thomas Watson (assistant director) is always phenomenal,” Whitman said.
Samantha Rivera, daughter of Staff Sgt. David and Vianey Rivera, plays Beth Bradley, one of the lead characters and serves as the play’s narrator. “This experience has taught me how to come out of my shell. It’s been a lot of fun — I’ve gained self-confidence and made a bunch of new friends.” Rivera admits learning the lines was a daunting task, but she knows she won’t shy away from acting in front of an audience in the future.
“I’m really impressed with the atmosphere of the Showboat Theatre, ” said Kim Shuck, mother of two of the cast members, commenting on the ambience during the dinner portion of the evening. “This collaboration has been wonderful for all the kids. They showed a huge level of commitment by practicing for at least two hours almost every night of the week.”
Skluzacek appreciated working with this group of young thespians. “I especially enjoyed watching the kids say their lines for the first time in front of a live audience. It was wonderful to see their reactions to the audience’s laughter,” said Skluzacek.
The audience won’t be disappointed by less experienced actors. “These kids are sharp. I was amazed at their speed in learning their roles and picking up the rhythms of the play. Their attitude was great and everything simply fell into place. I give all the credit to them and Whitman Cobb. She’s extraordinary with these kids,” Skluzacek said. Audience members agreed. “This play was adorable. The kids were ‘true to life’ and the account really hit at the heart of the original Christmas story which reminds us we should get to know people before we make judgments,” said Tami Richardson.
Patrons can enjoy this touching story of the meaning of Christmas at performance-only and dinner theatre showings. A performance-only show is held tonight at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.
Dinner theatre is held Saturday. Cocktails begin at 6 p.m. with dinner served at 6:30 p.m. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission for adults is $20 and children 12 and under $15.
The show is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. For more information or to make reservations, call Showboat Theatre at 531-2337.