By Megan Hussey
Publishers Weekly called it “One of the best Christmas books ever.” The book holds a five-star rating at Amazon.com. The movie featured Loretta Swit of MASH fame and a young Fairuza Balk, and still shows up on cable stations this time of year. And now, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is coming to Brooksville.
Live Oak Theatre’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” a stage adaption of Barbara Robinson's classic family Christmas story, will be presented at the Carol & Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville, Florida, Dec. 12-15.
"Whether it’s the book or the stage play, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever has been a favorite story of many Live Oakers for years," said Live Oak director Lindsay McTague. "During production, we’ve had so many people beam as they tell us how they read the story as children or watched the play in years past. When the theatre decided to bring this story to the Live Oak stage, our actors were ecstatic. We had actually not known that much about the story before being asked to direct. Of course, as we read the script, the book, and watched the TV Christmas special, we immediately fell in love with the characters and the message. We knew it was the perfect Live Oak show."
This contemporary story revolves around a church production of the Biblical Christmas story, directed by a suburban mom named Grace Bradley. Ms. Bradley has her work cut out for her when the main roles in this timeless story are assumed by a clan that her young daughter Grace declares “the WORST kids in the whole history of the world.” Yet under Grace's direction, the Herdmans tap their untold talents to present the best Christmas Pageant ever.
In presenting this show to Hernando audiences, directors McTague and Katie Moore also intend to present a top quality Christmas production.
"We as a theatre company pride ourselves in providing quality, family-friendly entertainment. This show provides a perfect mix for our stage. It’s a very kid-heavy production, which provides our younger actors a chance to wow audiences. It’s also a straight play, not a musical, which is a bit of a switch from our usual programming. This provides us with a unique and fun challenge of relying solely on the acting and chemistry between the characters," said Moore. "Live Oak prides itself in impressing audiences with quality shows, regardless of the actors’ ages. And this show certainly has a fun script! There’s not a scene that doesn’t involve some sort of humor. That being said, the show is by no means a shallow comedy. If you come to see the show without feeling the Christmas spirit, you’re sure to leave with some! This show reminds us all that Christmas is a very special time of year. It pulls back the curtain of mystery on the age-old Christmas story as the wild Herdman clan puts on the strangest- and maybe the most practical- Christmas Pageant their town has ever seen."
Live Oak Theatre Company (LOT) is a not-for-profit 501 (C) (3) company, located at 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville. The show's directors say that The Best Christmas Pageant Ever presents the company's youngest members with an interesting challenge.
"We absolutely love our kids. We can’t believe how well they interact on stage and bring the story to life. Without musical numbers to mesmerize the audience, our kiddos have to rely solely on themselves and each other to transport us into the story," said McTague. "Is it a challenge? Sure. Is it impossible? No way. Many of them have already done so in LOT’s Cheaper by the Dozen this past September. We’re confident that audiences will once again be impressed with how well our kids carry themselves on stage."
Due to audience demand, Live Oak Theatre has added two additional performances to its original intended run for “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Showtimes are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, and Friday, Dec. 13, and 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and Sunday, Dec. 15.
Adult tickets for all performances are $20; children ages 13 and younger are admitted for $5 each when their tickets are purchased with an adult ticket. All admissions include coffee, tea and dessert.
"Being based on a children’s book, this play does have a pretty simple yet powerful message. We don’t want to give away the end, of course," said Moore. "While we want audiences to find that message right along with the characters, we can say one thing. Whether it’s the first time or thousandth time you’ve seen a church Christmas pageant, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is sure to touch your heart, and hopefully, make you see Christmas in a whole new light."
For more information about The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and to purchase tickets, call 352-593-0027 or e-mail [email protected] or visit www.LiveOakTheatre.org.
Follow Live Oak on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LiveOakTheatre.