Fresh faces in holiday play
A stolen yo-yo returned, a ham given to others from a welfare basket, a doll gently held in a child’s arms — small tokens symbolizing the true meaning of Christmas.
Actors of the School of Theatre and Dance’s latest production, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” took the stage this weekend with a heartwarming rendition of a famous holiday program with a twist.
When six of the worst-behaved children in the neighborhood decide it is time to contribute to the renowned Christmas pageant — a strict tradition in the town — the director is thrown several new obstacles that leave some thinking it might be best to just cancel the event.
The Herdman children, who originally try to cause chaos for their classmates, eventually find harmony and learn to balance their mischievous ways with acts of love.
Based on Barbara Robinson’s 1972 book, the play was intended for family audiences. Even the youngest toddler in the audience remained quiet and engrossed throughout the production, and adults struggled to stifle laughter at some slightly inappropriate gestures by Imogene Herdman.
The production was directed by associate theater professor Carolyn Houston Boone, and the cast presented several fresh faces.
Of the three girls who spoke in the introduction, only one successfully delivered her lines with believable enthusiasm and appropriate volume. The angel choir’s dialogue was also drowned out.
The acting wasn’t a complete failure. The Herdmans, Imogene in particular, wowed the audience with believable character development, and snot-nosed Elmer presented both an endearing lisp and humorous forgetfulness in a way that made this minor character more memorable than some of the major characters.
When the curtain went down and the lights came on at the end of this short play, actors greeted their standing ovation with a kind request for food bank donations to give to the less fortunate.
The School of Theatre and Dance will take the stage again with its “Emerging Choreographers” production at noon Dec. 6 in the Jose Quintero Theatre. For more information, visit uh.edu/class/theatre-and-dance.