Still regretting that you missed the recent sold out production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever downtown at Mill Mountain Theatre? Then you may want to check out the movie version. You can find it on both DVD and VHS at several branches of your Roanoke Valley Public Library. This delightful family comedy is also a great way to close out your holiday entertainment.
Barbara Robinson’s beloved tale of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever first appeared as a short book all the way back in 1972. Ten years later Robinson’s stage adaptation saw its first production and in 1983 it appeared as a television movie starring Loretta Swit. Best known for her Emmy winning role as Hot Lips on the classic TV series M*A*S*H, she appears here as housewife, mother, and impromptu pageant director Grace Bradley.
The children’s Christmas pageant is the crowning event of the holiday season at the local church. When a broken leg sidelines omnipotent organizer and pageant director Helen Armstrong (Sally Durr), her church lady underlings wrangle Grace into taking it on. Unbeknownst to anyone, the Herdmans show up and decide to play the lead roles. They are the six worst Welfare children in the entire town, possibly the world. The unruly, cigar smoking little terrors threaten to make this the worst pageant ever unless Grace’s stubborn determination can turn things around.
Robinson’s story still resonates because it both acknowledges and embraces the wonder, amazement, and surprising ignorance of the story of the Nativity. It does so most especially with humor and warmth. The new knowledge of Jesus’ birth affects the Herdman’s like nothing before in their lives and teaches them about love and the gift of giving. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will affect you in the same way with a lot of laughs throughout the journey.