By Kristine Hull
The Providence Players’ upcoming show “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will offer audiences not only a sense of Christmas-tide, but also the spirit of Christmas charity. The Providence Players are co-producing the play with The Young Hearts Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of young people afflicted with cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia.
“The Best Christmas Pageant” is about a community that performs a Christmas pageant every year with little interest until the Herdmans, the most feared children in town (who certainly appear on Santa’s naughty list), decide they want to be a part of the pageant. In this comedic holiday play, the six Herdman children spice up the show that had become dull and forced.
Director Beth Whitehead, who has been in three different productions of the play since graduate school, proposed the play to the Providence Players’ board and was excited to direct the play with all the comedy and antics the kids get up to – especially the Herdman children.
“They bring the show to life, the one that is done every year over and over that they were going through the motions,” Whitehead said. “They have questions like, ‘What’s an inn? What’s a manger? What are swaddling clothes? Why did King Herod want to kill the baby?’ That’s what I like about the play: Everyone is afraid of them and judging them, but at the same time the Herdmans have something to teach everybody.”
The cast includes 21 young actors, the youngest of whom are 2-year-old baby angels; it’s been interesting to work with all the kids, Whitehead said.
Dave, Beth’s husband, is co-producing the play with The Young Hearts Foundation. He has fond memories associated with the play – he met his wife while working on a production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” 28 years ago – and thinks the tale is a good fit for the holiday season.
“The show is about seeing the Christmas story from a different perspective,” Dave Whitehead said. “It creates awareness for the spirit of the Christmas spirit and the spirit of helping people, caring for people, loving people. I think that this collaboration to support this important cause is a very important and wonderful piece of that. It’s not only very meaningful but very cool.”
The family-friendly, heartwarming production, just in time for the holidays and with a charitable purpose in mind, could well live up to its “Best Christmas Pageant” name.
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” runs Dec. 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15 at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Dec. 8, 9, 15, and 16. The play will be performed at The James Lee Community Center Theater, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church. Tickets are $15, and half of the play’s net proceeds will be donated to The Young Hearts Foundation. For more information, visit providenceplayers.org.