Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Show #68 "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" at Lakewood Playhouse

No disrespect is intended to the Lakewood Playhouse, but when hearing that this show was on their season schedule, I would have called this play, "The Most Overdone Christmas Play Ever."
I mean, EVERYONE seems to do this show at one time or another. There are theaters who make this show an annual event. There are churches who perform this in place of an actual Christmas pageant. Imagine that.

The last time I saw this show, it was a youth production at a church where my then-teenaged son performed as the Dad, Mr. Bradley. Next to A Christmas Carol, this is probably the second most performed holiday show around. Can't prove that, but not too many folks will argue the point.

At first, it's hard to see why. The script is dated, with small town church references that come from a bygone era (say, about 40 years ago), and a view of childhood that sometimes strains credibility.

Barbara Robinson wrote the book her play is based on in 1972. Yep, it feels like it. Even with the child actors in Lakewood's production in 21st century dress, it can't disguise the fact that the story should have come from MY childhood days, not theirs.

But, wait. This play is not simply about a family of ruffians who come from a broken home and terrorize the other kids in their town. It's about a Christmas pageant. A re-telling of why we celebrate the season to begin with. A story about a young Jewish couple who travel far from home, can't get a room at the inn, and give birth to their baby son in a barn. It's about Jesus.

Jesus, the baby who changed the world. The savior who still changes the world, by changing people's hearts. Yeah, THAT Jesus.

I guess no matter the format, script, or staging, the story of the first Christmas still stirs our hearts. It should. It was a miracle.

Theatre has its own miracles. One of them is this: that Man (in this case, Woman) can take a "tired old script" that is used, over-used and used once again, and somehow, make it move the audience. It can still bring a tear to the eye of a burnt-out theatre goer who's already seen 67 shows before this one.

Is this miracle thanks to theatre, or thanks to God? I would guess that it's both. God and theatre, working together.

Sound implausible? No...it sounds like the perfect partnership.

Praise God for His indescribable Gift.

Photography thanks to Dean Lapin Photography

1 comment:

  1. I never heard of it. I thought in the US everyone did the Nutcracker for Xmas. Whereas we do Panto.

    Happy Christmas Aya.