jex-12122019-nws-starlighterscast-a06

The cast of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” has another weekend of performances.

Anamosa

Just in time to get you in the holiday spirit, the final Starlighters production for 2019 provides plenty of holiday cheer that should satisfy Christmas traditionalists and those looking for a twist on the nativity story.

The story follows a church Christmas pageant thrown into chaos when the usual director breaks her leg and the Herdman children, “a rough and tough group of siblings from the wrong side of the tracks, descend upon the pageant, lured by the promise of free dessert at Sunday school, and determined to win all the lead roles for themselves,” throw a wrench into the system.

Sure enough, it provides a unique portrayal of the traditional Christmas story, while the songs performed during the pageant offers a variety of traditional holiday fare. The Herdmans have fun tormenting the rest of the cast. Be sure to keep your eye in the background during the scenes.

The Herdmans’ misunderstanding of the Christmas story and the exasperation it causes makes for some fun scenes. Of particular note is Hadley Embree’s notes on how to improve her role as the angel.

Our guides in this world are the Bradley family, with daughter Beth (Emily Meyer) providing narration, younger brother Charlie (Griffin Emree) providing some of the funniest commentary. The parents, played by Dusty Embree and Ben Williams, provide their own set of humor. Mother, Grace, is tasked with the unenviable task of taking over the production and her husband feigning disinterest never fails to get a laugh.

The other major group is the church ladies. The group of town gossips, led by the pageant’s usual director, played by Dawn Marek. Marek has a couple of standout scenes as she tries to control the play and offer advice from her hospital bed.

The imprint of the junior directors can certainly be seen in the play. Drew Pate, tasked with lighting, has a cool sequence during a portion of the play involving the town’s fire department. The music, supervised by Tabi Etten, is all well done, except when it’s bad purposefully for comedic effect.

Devon Lack was placed in charge of props and the play effectively uses props, costumes and the unique rotating set to uniquely tell the story. The entrance of the play’s sheep was a highlight of the pageant production.

All told, the close out of the 45th season of Starlighters provides plenty of laughs, heart and entertainment and the time flies during the zany production.

The play runs for one more weekend, Dec. 13, 14 and 15. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday shows start at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults, $15 for senior citizens (62 and over) and $15 for students (grades K-college).

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