“THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER”
Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Attleboro Community Theatre’s holiday presentation this year is “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” The show is hilarious from start to finish as anyone who ever sat through Sunday school can attest to. The premise is that the director of the play, Mrs. Armstrong who is well played by Jo-Ann Vaughn, has broken her leg and can’t direct the pageant. It is based on the 1971 book by Barbara Robinson. It tells the story of Imogene, Claude, Ralph, Leroy, Ollie and Gladys, six delinquent children named the Herdmans who are engaged in misfit behavior for their age including smoking, drinking jug wine and shoplifting. They go to church for the first time after being told the church offers snacks. Despite protests from other church members, they are given roles in the Sunday school’s Christmas play, in which they tell the Christmas story in an unconventional fashion. Director Jeanne Smith casts a multitude of people in these roles including many children and they do a bang up job with this funny Christmas story.
She is aided by musical director Barbara Lee who taught the children the Christmas carols in Act 2. Jeanne’s daughter also creates a very beautiful stained glass window that is lit up during the pageant, providing a miracle that the show goes off without a hitch, leading the harshest critics to exclaim that this is the best Christmas pageant ever. Mrs. Armstrong enlists Mrs. Grace Bradley to help out and take over direction of the show. Her daughter, Beth Bradley is the narrator of the show and is the voice of reason. She is wonderfully played by Jasia Mackey. Her brother, Charlie who spills the beans to the unruly Herdmans is well played by Riley Sparks. Their long suffering parents are excellently played by Megan Ruggiero and Brandon Harrington. After many trials and tribulations, she manages to pull the show off with some misinterpretations along the way which induces much laughter. The tough as nails, cigar smoking Imogene is well played by Abigail Terreault who plays Mary and cries during the manger scene. Her antics are priceless. Another scene stealer is Cadence Preston as Gladys who likes to say Shazam as the angel. She exclaims loudly to come and worship Jesus and pushes the shepherds over to him. She also drinks the altar wine which is also very comical. Shawn Oravec as Ralph, Michael Coburn as Claude, Ryan Dilisio as Leroy and Garion Havens as Ollie are also very as the Herdman family who transform themselves after the pageant to be bettered behaved. Morgan Gariepy is also a hoot as the prim and proper Alice who usually plays Mary. She writes down everything she finds wrong in a small notebook. Let me just say this show has to be seen to be enjoyed. Kudos to the whole cast and crew for providing a family friendly show that audiences can savor and enjoy during this holiday season. So for a Christmas show that will definitely help you usher in the Christmas spirit, be sure to catch “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at Attleboro Community Theatre. Tell them Tony sent you.
THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER (2 to 18 December)
Attleboro Community Theatre, 71 North Main St, Attleboro, MA
1(508)226-8100 or www.attleborocommunitytheatre.com