I have had the opportunity this year to see a few of the many holiday shows available to Twin Cities audiences. They have included the classic Christmas Carol, a community theater production called Miracle at Christmas Lake, and the spectacular stage adaption of White Christmas. It is only fitting that my last show this season was SteppingStone Theatre’s production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
|the best christmas pageant ever, a play written by barbara robinson. presented through december 23 at steppingstone theatre, 55 victoria ave. n., st. paul. for tickets ($12) and information, see steppingstonetheatre.org. for information on why this is not a review, see jay gabler’s blog entry|
My fondest memories of Christmas shows are the school pageants that my children performed in. There is nothing like being a proud parent sitting in the audience watching your own children perform. One year, my son Jay stood in the front row during his first-grade class performance doing nothing more than smiling distractedly and staring at the audience while the rest of his class sang carols. As far as I was concerned, he was still the star of the show.
Of course, most school pageants are performed in much more modest settings than the new home of SteppingStone Theatre: a renovated 100-year old church building in St. Paul. The mission of SteppingStone is to provide fully-staged productions that give children theatrical education and experience. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was the first production mounted one year ago in their new home, and it was also the very first show that SteppingStone put on when the company was founded 20 years ago. According to a statement from artistic director Richard Hitchler, “It’s really a metaphor for what we do at SteppingStone all year round.”
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is the story of a church pageant that is taken over by the six Herdman kids, “the worst kids in the history of the world.” The only reason they join the Sunday school production is because they hear treats are being served. They turn what should have been the worst production ever into a show that reminds all of us what the true meaning of Christmas is.
If you haven’t been to a school pageant yet this year, consider going to see this show. In this holiday season, where the economic conditions are going to have people scaling back on their holiday spending, it’s good to have an opportunity to remember what Christmas is really about.
Jean Gabler (email@example.com) is program director for undergraduate business programs at the University of St. Thomas.