Vpstart Crow The Best Christmas Pageant EverBy Michael Clark • Dec 9th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Gregory Family Theatre, Manassas, VA
Through December 18th
$20/$15 Seniors/$10 Children
Reviewed December 8th, 2011
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a play based off a book by Barbara Robinson, tells the story of a church’s attempt to produce their annual Christmas pageant. The problems pile up though: the director is in the hospital, the replacement director’s kids don’t want to be in the show, and the toughest kids in the town do. This amusing show will be well received by kids with a few touches for adults.
Watching the “good” kids deal with the “bad” kids (the Herdmans) was quite believable. Julie Desmedt as Beth Bradley was sincere and open to other interpretations of the Christmas story (“well, she was pregnant!”) While she never put the other “good” kids in their place, she helped make the magic of the nativity’s effect on Imogene Herdman (Hannah Ivester) real.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is definitely aimed at kids, especially in the way it treats the adults of the story. They are a mishmash of ineptitude, showing signs of pride, fear, drunkenness, and laziness. The exception is the cheerful Grace Bradley (Deb Gregoire). Gregoire allowed her character to persevere in the face of adversity, never quite losing her temper as her production wheeled out of control.
The set (designed by Rob Batarla) featured two main scenes, the Bradley home and the church auditorium. Batarla’s design made good use of the enormous playing area of the theater, allowing the audience to be able to more easily focus on the action. Ryan Johnston’s lights were effective at directing the audience’s focus, as there were many small scenes performed on the outer edge or along the very front of the playing area. The costumes were appropriate, with nice detail given to the Herdman children’s appearance.
The pay what you can performance was the first public performance ever for most of the cast. There were a few rough spots, most notably the lack of volume from several actors, both children and adults. There were also a few delays during scene changes. Playing Christmas music could have covered the delays. Over time I expect these problems will diminish.
In general, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a silly little show, and Vpstart Crow and Studio Works VA have created an enjoyable, family friendly hour of theater.
- Gladys Herdman: Kai Amado
- Reverend Hopkins: Geoffrey Baskir
- Jack Slocum: Shane Dean
- Mrs. Slocum: Shelly Dean
- Hobie Clark: Taylor Dean
- Beth Bradley: Julie Desmedt
- Edna McCarthy: Meg Desmedt
- Ralph Herdman: John Dubbelde, Jr.
- Fireman: John Dubbelde, Sr.
- Mrs. Armstrong: Lisa Dubbelde
- Claudia Herdman: Meg Dubbelde
- Ollie Herdman: Audrey Gregoire
- Grace Bradley: Deb Gregoire
- Bob Bradley: Marcus Gregoire
- Imogene Herdman: Hannah Ivester
- Maxine: Rebekah Ivester
- Elmer Hopkins: Tanner Jaksa
- Leroy Herdman: Ethan Porter
- Fireman: Garth Porter
- Alice Wendleken: Hannagh Smith
- Mrs. Clausing: Angela Tracy
- Charlie Bradley: Ryan Tracy
- Mrs. Clark: Linda Whitaker
- Girl’s Chorus: Eilis Cribbs, Betty Gregoire, Lizzy Nicholas
- Understudy: Alice Wedleken: Sabrina Hostetter
The Production Team
- Artistic Director: Rob Batarla
- Managing Director: Clemente Santiago III
- Producer: Denise Smith
- Director: Rob Batarla and Kye-Won Kopko
- Stage Manager: Clemente Santiago III
- Technical Director: Dan Clark
- Set Designer: Rob Batarla
- Lighting Designer: Ryan Johnston
- Sound Designer: Rob Batarla
- Costumes: The Cast and Crew
- Hair and Makeup- Mary Price
- Poster Designer: Cory Okouchi
- Program Designer: Bob Smith
Disclaimer: Vpstart Crow provided a complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/7452.