Civic Players continue Sleighbell tradition with ‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

The Herdmans are a big part of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," and are played by (back row)  Lee Pizana, Amelia Vasquez, Courtney Haag, (front row) Natalie Myers, Jack O'Donnell and Louis Bennett. (Courtesy photo)

The Herdmans are a big part of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” and are played by (back row) Lee Pizana, Amelia Vasquez, Courtney Haag, (front row) Natalie Myers, Jack O’Donnell and Louis Bennett. (Courtesy photo)

MANISTEE — After an exciting day of Christmas wonders and hot chocolate in Manistee, warm your family’s hearts with a tale of Christmas for all ages.

It’s time to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas as local actors and actresses share their talent, passion and commitment in the presentation of a classic tale of love and acceptance.

In the tradition of past Victorian Sleighbell Parade & Old Christmas Weekends, the Manistee Civic Players will perform “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”, along with a Community Sing-a-long, on Dec. 1,-3 and 8-10 at the Manistee High School.

As part of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," the Bradley family is played by (back row, from left) Sharon Gates, Ben Hengy, (front row) Sarah Huber and William Smogoleski. (Courtesy photo)

As part of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” the Bradley family is played by (back row, from left) Sharon Gates, Ben Hengy, (front row) Sarah Huber and William Smogoleski. (Courtesy photo)

Shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2, 8 and 9 with matinees at 2 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 10.

Directors Tom Richert and Bonnie Brown have a very energetic cast, some of whom are new to the stage. For some, it is their first time doing a production with the Manistee Civic Players, and there is also a group of veteran Civic Player actors. The cast also includes three exchange students: Ditte Jakobsen, from Denmark, Bow Charoenkittitum, from Thailand, and Jessica Steels, from Australia.

“As a first time director, I am enjoying watching each person develop their character and really bring it to life,” said Brown. “Co-directing with Tom Richert is a real joy, as he brings his professional expertise and skills and a great sense of humor. The show has lots of laughs but there are also many thoughtful moments as the Herdman children connect to the traditional Christmas story being put on by their local church in their own way, and the regular Sunday school kids see it in perhaps a new way.”

Christmas carols will be performed during the show; the audience is invited to join in for a carol sing at the end with pianist Blade Gates and the cast.

“We also have a great production team taking care of lights, sound, costumes, props, makeup and set building,” said Brown. “Many thanks to the Manistee High School for welcoming the Manistee Civic Players into the building for both rehearsals and performances.”

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is a Christmas tale that is perfect for all ages. A couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids — probably the most inventively awful kids in history.

This comedy is adapted from the best-selling young adult book and has become a holiday staple for groups across the United States.

Tickets can be ordered in advance by calling MyNorth Tickets at 1-800-836-0717 (from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or online at www.manisteecivicplayers.org.

 

CAST LIST

Father (Bob Bradley) — Ben Hengy

Mother (Grace Bradley) — Sharon Gates

Beth Bradley — Sarah Huber

Charlie Bradley — William Smogoleski

Ralph Herdman — Lee Pizana

Imogene Herdman — Courtney Haag

LeRoy Herdman — Jack O’Donnell

Claudia Herdman — Amelia Vasquez

Ollie Herdman — Louis Bennett

Gladys Herdman — Natalie Myers

Alice Wendleken — Emily Haiss

Mrs. Armstrong — Carol Burba

Mrs. Slocum — Kathleen Smogoleski

Mrs. Clausing — Sandy Saylor

Mrs. McCarthy — Joey Burba

Maxine — Amelia Langfeldt

Elmer Hopkins — Heyden Howes

Hobie — Andy O Donnell

David — Owen Heinsman

Beverly — Olivia Kaczmarek

Baby Angel Henry — Logan Harvey

Baby Angel Joe — Nathan Erlandson

Baby Angel Max — Christian Erlandson

Angel — Olivia Rackow

Reverend Hopkins — Philip Smogoleski

Firefighter/Choir — Jessica Steels

Choir/Youth Leader — Ditte Jakobsen and Bow Charoenkittitum

Shepherds — Keith Kaczmarek, Karson Helminski, Ruthie Jados and Josie Howes

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