Stage One Family Theatre opens its first public performances of Barbara Robinson’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at the Kentucky Center Saturday. The family-friendly play is recommended for grades 4-8.
Directed by Lucas Adams, the play is about how a small town reacts when the rowdiest children in town—the Herdmans —decide to muscle their way into the annual Christmas play.
“They hit kids, they smoke cigars, even the girls, they take the Lord’s name in vain,” says director Lucas Adams. “They’re trouble children who cause trouble throughout the entire community.”
The townspeople are convinced the Herdman kids will bring their beloved Christmas pageant down, but the Christmas spirit prevails over catastrophe in the end.
“They think nothing good can come of this, and for a while, they seem to be right, but they’re in for a surprise,” adds Lucas.
There are two public performances of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” Saturday. Most of the performances will be school matinees, but a limited number of weekend public performances are scheduled through December 22.
Because of the demands of the school matinee schedule and the actors’ own school attendance, Adams works with a double cast of 32 child actors, plus five adults. He says working with a double-cast show is interesting because the show changes depending on who’s on.
“Each kid brings their own specific choices to the role. For instance, the two actors who play Ralph Herdman don’t do it the same,” says Lucas. “It’s interesting to see how the show shifts from cast to cast.”
Working with child actors demands a different approach from the director. Adams finds he has to be more intentional and specific when giving his younger actors notes.
“It’s simplifying my language,”says Lucas. “And being far more clear with what I want than I may necessarily be with an adult actor, because adult actors have worked in the theater and are very familiar with making strong choices and come in ready to make those choices.”
“With some of the older student actors, they’re really starting to realize what it means to be honest on stage, and not simply present what I think sadness or happiness or fear looks like, but to really start to feel that inside their bodies in the moment,” he adds.