-Benny Warnick, A&E editor
Cole Angel can easily relate to the character Grace in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
Like Grace, Angel was given the responsibility of directing Mississippi College’s seventh annual production of “Best Christmas” under some unusual circumstances.
“Dr. Grayson, the professor who takes charge of a lot of elements of the show, hurt her back not too long ago,” Angel said. “She’s back in it now, but there was a while where we thought that she might be laid up and unable to help out. This being the first show that I’ve directed in college, I had quite the situation on my hands.”
The MC senior, with the help of Grayson and multiple MC parents and students, has been the driving force behind the school’s portrayal of the classic Christmas show. The production will run in Swor Auditorium at Mississippi College on Nov. 18-21 at 10:30 a.m. and on Nov. 18 and 20 at 7 p.m., with tickets priced at $5 for students, $10 for adults, and $4 per ticket for groups of 20 or more.
The story tells the tale of a church preparing to put on their annual portrayal of the Christmas story. When the show’s usual director hurts her leg, the ladies in the church ask Grace Bradley, a wife and mother of two children within the church, to direct the show. When the Herdmans, a family of six rambunctious kids, catch wind of the production, they more or less scare the other children in the church out of volunteering for certain parts in the show in order to get the parts for themselves. This puts Grace in an even more unusual situation and creates many of the show’s humorous undertones that fans know and love.
The show is a classic Christmas production, and its audience spans a variety of age groups. Each performance creates new fans of the production as well as satisfying those who have known the play for decades.
“A lot of the people we have coming to see the play are younger kiddos from local schools,” Angel said. “It fits the MC’s crowd and a younger generation of kids, as well as an older generation who have seen the play for years. It has a very wide viewing audience and is entertaining for all ages.”
Auditions for the production were open to the public, allowing for local children to play some of the roles in the show. Angel considers this element of the production process to be crucial in the show’s success.
“You can dress people up and put people in makeup, but you can’t make them a kid,” Angel said. “You can make them look like a kid, you can make them act like a kid, you can make them sound like a kid, but you can’t make them a kid. When you have a kid in there, it’s really special for other kids because they’re like, ‘Oh look there’s someone like me,’ but it’s also special for parents too, as everyone can remember being a kid. It’s a highly relatable show.”
Though the show is humorous in nature, those in the audience will likely walk away from the show with more than just an appreciation for its humor.
“One sub-theme of the show is the importance of not forgetting those who have never heard the Christmas story,” Angel said. “Just like the Herdmans had never heard the story before getting involved in the church play, there are many people out there in the same boat. But by the end of the show, I think it will be very hard not to be in the Christmas spirit.”
Best Christmas-Ask the Cast
What is your favorite part of the show?
“My favorite part about Best Christmas would have to be my sword fighting scene that I have.”-Marsalis James (Claude)
“Probably just being super sassy the whole time and embracing Alice’s character cause I think it’s always more fun to be the character who’s not quite the good guy cause you just get to explore the character more in the show.” –Laura Grace Smeadly (Alice)
Why should people see the show?
“Well it’s really entertaining, you get to see us make fools of ourselves and put on a different side and sort of show Christmas in a different light cause here in the south we kind of get used to the idea of Christmas and it’s just showing Christmas from the view of someone whose never seen it before.” –Adrienne Lee (Mrs. Slocum)
“It is a great family production that has laughs for people of all ages.” –Marsalis James (Claude)
“It is a wonderful uplifting Christmas play that does a very good job of getting everybody in the Christmas spirit and it’s got a great message about overcoming adversity and finding the true meaning of Christmas.” –Cole Angel (Director)
“It’s a great show for a family, it incorporates a lot of Christmas values and I think it’s something that the whole family can enjoy and not just the parents or just the kids, all ages can enjoy it.” –Laura Grace Smeadly (Alice)