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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Unsung heroes of Christmas pageants

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Every reader who has ever worn a bath robe to march down the church aisle singing "We Three Kings", or who has been the harried director of such a production, will get lots of laughs and fond memories watching the current CCPA production at the Fox Theater. The story is classic. Every volunteer director has had to deal with children like the Herdmans, and many a father has been reluctant to attend one more Christmas pageant.

But the great thing about this production is the opportunity given to our own children to experience being part of a professionally directed dramatic presentation. The audience that will attend these three evenings or one matinee will see the results of hours and hours of work by Kathleen Day, the director, her assistants Allison Fast and Kim Bessey, as well as, many other CCPA volunteers who work together to bring this experience to the community.

The actors, aged from pre-school to a couple of adults, have come each evening from 5:30 to 7 to practice for over six weeks. That doesn't count all the hours in between spent learning their lines, finding their costumes and practicing gestures. Creating the playbills, constructing the set, enlisting technical help such as music directors, spot light operators, or getting the theater opened up each night are details we in the audience often take for granted. But each of those responsibilities takes time and energy of the great volunteers who bring this opportunity to our community.

And then there are the parents. For weeks, supper schedules have had to be changed, transportation arranged to get the actors to the practices, and for many there have been long hours sitting in a cool theater watching week after week of rehearsals.

I am sure that I am not the only one who felt some despair during the first week of practice that this varied cast of young people could ever get a smooth production ready. The fact that some of the characters in the play are troublemakers made it even harder to watch. We in the darkened theater didn't always know if the boy pushing another child was acting, or being a brat.

As time went on and we could repeat each character's lines almost as easily as the child actor, we marveled at the transformation that was taking place on the stage. Our anxiety faded as we felt pride in the professionalism emerging in front of us.

The directors never failed to let the cast know that they were doing a good job. They maintained order without lessening the enjoyment the young people were experiencing, and they made each child know the value of each character in the play.

One of the lines in the play says, "There are no small parts, only small actors". Kathleen Day makes that come true with the attention she gives to those who are playing minor characters in the play.

I predict that attending this play tonight or one of the next two nights or Sunday afternoon will put you in the Christmas spirit. It should also give you additional pride in our hometown that has made this type of experience possible for us to enjoy.

I know I will leave giving thanks that I was one sitting in the audience and not having the type of responsibility I used to have in our own church's Christmas pageants. The Herdmans are funnier on stage than in your Sunday School classes!

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus