If your childhood copy of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is loved as much as Imogene Herdman loved to pick on a kid with double-jointed thumbs, here’s a Christmas miracle for you: Three Midlands-area theaters are staging productions “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” this week.
If this is the first you’ve heard of Imogene Herdman, here’s an excerpt:
“The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s old broken-down toolhouse.”
After a few pages describing the Herdmans’ transgressions, from bribery to the aforementioned arson, the narrator of Barbara Robinson’s 1971 children’s book, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” concludes: “We figured they were headed straight for hell, by way of the state penitentiary … until they got themselves mixed up with the church, and my mother, and our Christmas pageant.”
The narrator, named Beth in the play, tells how Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie and Gladys Herdman show up at the church for free snacks and somehow manage to take over the Christmas pageant, which Beth’s mother, Grace, is directing.
You can choose from three stages to watch the Herdmans wreak chaos and warm hearts – or, if you plan carefully enough, you can see three different shows.
The Chapin Theatre Company is performing the play through Sunday, Dec. 10, at Firehouse Theatre at American Legion Post 193 in Chapin.
“Director Tiffany Dinsmore has assembled a talented cast of adult and child actors, many of whom are enjoying themselves misbehaving on stage,” said Glenn Farr, the company’s secretary for public relations and marketing.
Village Square Theatre and Lexington County School District 1 are performing the play starting Friday, Dec. 8, at Village Square Theatre in Lexington.
“The kids are having a great time with the show and the characters,” said box office manager Graycen Szalwinski.
Columbia Children’s Theatre will perform the musical version, opening Friday, Dec. 8. The show will be in the company’s new performance space next to Barnes & Noble on the first level at the Richland Mall.
For the first time, the Children’s Theatre mainstage is welcoming an ensemble of student actors from its YouTheatre youth company to portray the kids in the show. Student actors include Sarah Krawczyk, Rebecca-Ryan Young, Cameron Vipperman, Sadie Stanley, Henry Melkomian, Will Varner, Courtney Hope Diveley, Adele Fuller, Dorothy Weaver, Marjorie Weaver, Fionn O’Connor, Luke Schrader, Cort Stevenson, Walker Weaver, Riley Triggs, Malana Hokaj, Anna Shull and Londyn James.
If you go
Chapin Theatre Company presents “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, and Friday, Dec. 8; 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10.
WHERE: Firehouse Theatre at American Legion Post 193, 102 Lexington Ave., Chapin.
TICKETS: All advance tickets are $12 at www.chapintheatre.org. At the door: $15, adults; $12, seniors 60 and older and youth 17 and younger.
Columbia Children’s Theatre presents “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical”
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8; 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9; 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10.
WHERE: Columbia Children’s Theatre, Richland Mall, 3400 Forest Drive.
TICKETS: $10, ages 3 and up (no ticket for children younger than 3); $8, active-duty military, seniors 60 and older and groups of 10 or more purchased at the same time; $5, all tickets to 7 p.m. Saturday shows. All tickets are available at www.columbiachildrenstheatre.com.
Village Square Theatre presents “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8; 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9; 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10.
WHERE: Village Square Theatre, 105 Caughman Road, Lexington.
TICKETS: $18, adults; $16, seniors; $14, youth at www.villagesquaretheatre.com.