Feel-Good Play Serves Up Laughs, Holiday Cheer

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“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is a delightful Greenwood Little Theatre production that’s sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

Directed by Sandi Wheatley, the one-act play features a cast of mostly young actors who light up the stage.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” opens 7 p.m. Friday followed by performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Sara Crawford Logan, who plays Beth Bradley, serves as the narrator and guides the audience throughout the play.

She begins by setting up the plot and opening scene, which features the Bradley family talking about their small-town church’s annual Christmas pageant, which is usually the same every year.

Soon, the audience finds out this year is going to be a little different since Vera Armstrong (Gwen Riley), the pageant’s bossy and longtime director, has broken her leg.

After most all the parents decline to lead the pageant, the responsibility is left to Beth’s mother, Grace (Kimberly Gnemi).

Little does she know, this year’s pageant is about to get even more of a shake-up with the arrival of the Herdmans — an unruly group of siblings who are notorious troublemakers.

It’s Grace’s son, Charlie (Henry Miller), who inadvertently gets the Herdmans involved in the pageant when he mentions the selection of desserts and refreshments served at his church to Leroy Herdman (Trenton Riley), who is always stealing Charlie’s lunch.

So here come all six Herdmans — Leroy, Ralphie (Victoria Reed), Imogene (Camryn Joiner), Claudine (Ann Carol Gnemi), Ollie (Langdon Dyksterhouse) and Gladys (Lenora Faulkner) — stomping onto the stage.

The Herdmans, who never attend church and had never even heard the biblical story of Christ’s birth, decide they want to be in the Christmas pageant. They bully their way to some of the leading roles and have several unconventional ideas about their characters.

For example, Imogene, who gets the role of Mary, would rather name the baby Bill than Jesus, and Gladys has her own spunky interpretation for how the Angel of the Lord should be played.

Needless to say, with the Herdmans, antics ensue, keeping the audience in laughs throughout their pageant rehearsals.

Close to the end of the performance, the laughs subside as the play takes a solemn, heartwarming turn that highlights the real meaning of the Christmas season.

The play features music performed by pianist Paul Brown, and several well-known Christmas carols that will make the audience want to sing along — some will!

In the play’s program, Wheatley writes, “The rewards of directing kids are laughs at nearly every practice, surprises at how creative they can be, and a feeling of being very blessed to watch them make an old show their own.”

And this group of talented young actors definitely makes it their own with a feel-good performance that the whole family will enjoy.

Overall, the play is a joy to watch and lives up to its name —“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”

The show is free for current Greenwood Little Theatre members. Tickets for non-members cost $10 for students (age 21 and younger) and $15 for adults. Visit greenwoodlittletheatre.com or call or text 662-947-1075 to reserve seats.

Alicia Dallasreviews