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"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"

Delta Center Stage presents "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"
By LYNN LaFOE @ Delta Democrat Times

The nativity scene in the Christmas pageant includes (front row, from left) shepherds Cameron Brown, Thomas Sherman and Jamie Dotson; (second row) Erin McKinney, Jacob Brown, Clay Curry and Rhett Hobart; (standing) Carly Anne Newsom as an angel, Parker Knutson as RalphHerdman playing Joseph, Regina Jenkins as Imogene Herdman playing Mary and (kneeling) Nicole Newsom as Gladys Herdman portraying the Angel of the Lord and Michael Henry as Claude Herdman and Justin Kelly as Leroy Herdman playing the wisemen. (Delta Democrat Times photo by Cassandra Perry)

Getting in the spirit of Christmas will be easy this year with Delta Center Stage's production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"opening Thursday at Jake and Freda Stein Hall of E.E. Bass Cultural Arts Center in Greenville.Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

"This is a funny play with a lot of cute children saying funny lines," said Michael Sherman, who along with his wife Maria, is directing the play.

Written by Barbara Robinson, this delightful comedy is adapted from the only story ever to run twice in McCall's magazine. "An American Classic" is McCall's description. "One of the best Christmas stories ever -- and certainly one of the funniest," said the Seattle Times.

"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" tells the hilarious tale of the efforts of a woman and her husband to put on the annual church Christmas pageant despite having to cast the Herdman kids -- probably the meanest, nastiest, most inventively awful kids in history.

The action is set in a small (Southern, in this instance) town during the Christmas season. Everyone is preparing for the annual Christmas play when the director, Mrs. Armstrong, played by Michelle Hancock, breaks her leg. "Mrs. Armstrong is the only one who has ever directed the pageant, so no one else knows how to do it," Sherman explained. Grace Bradley, played by Mitzi Hunter, reluctantly accepts the job as director. With the help of her husband Bob Bradley, played by Scott Frank, she tries to make the best of the situation. The Bradley's daughter, Beth, played by Lauren DeLap, acts as the narrator for the play, setting the scenes and sharing tidbits of information with the audience.

Rhett Hobart plays Beth's younger brother, Charlie Bradley, who gets full credit for the Herdman kids showing up for auditions. Having the town's six mot undesirable children coerce their way into the roles of Mary, Joseph, the three Wisemen and the Angel of the Lord threatens to ruin the annual Christmas pageant for everyone.

The Herdman children are Ralph, played by Parker Knutson; Imogene, played by Regina Jenkins; Leroy, played by Justin Kelly; Claude played by Michael Henry; Ollie, played by Rico Hernandez; and Gladys, played by Nicole Newsom.

Even though the audition session and all the rehearsals are chaotic, peace reigns at the "big
production" and the pageant is an overwhelming success. Even the town's busy bodies, Mrs. Armstrong, Mrs. Slocum played Maria Borgognoni and Mrs. McCarthy, played by Robin Kelly, have to admit that it was the best Christmas Pageant ever -- because of the Herdmans' involvement!

Lynn LaFoe can be reached at 378-0724 or
Delta Democrat Times Online: Local News
Greenville, Mississippi Sunday, December 02, 2001

Other cast members are Whitney Baskin as Alice Wendleken, Marguerite Sherman as Maxine, Clay Curry as Elmer Hopkins, Jacob Brown as Hobie, Jamie Dotson as David, Sarah Taylor as Beverly, Sarah Baskin as Shirley, Laurin Mitchell as Juanita, Ann Kathryn Dunavant as Doris and Larry Newsom as the Rev. Hopkins.

Maria Sherman also serves as musical director for the Angel Choir which sings traditional Christmas carols such as "Away in a Manger" and "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem." Members of the Angel Choir are Kanda Borgognoni, Mary Ellen Frank, Chelsey Haik,
Kimberly Jenkins, Jitoria Jones, Zina Kelly, Flenadia Moore, Kemberly Morgan, Anna Morris, Jasmine Pollard, Tomara Pollard, Ursula Sanders, Gabrielle Singleton, Danielle Suber and Pierce Virden.

The Baby Angels include Caroline Brooks, Nina Jordan, Sarah Lane, Carly Anne Newsom, Natori Pittman and Myeosha Smith. Playing the shepherds are Cameron Brown, Matthew Frank, Dillon Hernandez, Patrick Lane, Erin McKinney, Nigel Huff,
Sherrod Reed and Thomas Sherman.

Lewis Dotson, Michael Riser and Kim Taylor are the stage managers. Tim Bixler and Charlene Louwerens are in charge of set design and construction and Maria Sherman is also in charge of the costumes.

Admission is by Delta Center Stage season ticket, or individual tickets will be available for $10 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets are also on sale at Wells-Lott Village Pharmacy, Dattel & Co., McCormick Book Inn and Johl and Bergman.


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