Theatrikos ushers in holiday spirit
Tonight, Theatrikos’ Doris-Harper White Playhouse will raise its curtains and usher in the Yuletide spirit with its annual Christmas mainstage performance. This year’s production is Barbara Robinson’s illustrious show The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a mischievous holiday play set to bring the Christmas spirit to Flagstaff.
Theatrikos is a popular non-profit theater organization committed to providing quality productions to northern Arizona. They put on multiple shows every year, including an annual Christmas production.
Joe Maniglia, Theatrikos’ educational director, said the group has a revolving lineup of Christmas shows that alternate annually.
“There are a number of holiday shows that Theatrikos has put on in the past,” Maniglia said. “Examples are A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, Christmas Story, Inspecting Carol and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. We always do a Christmas show, and those are all part of our Christmas lineup.”
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is based on a highly successful book written by Robinson in 1972. The story focuses on six juvenile delinquents who all bear the same surname of Herdman. They decide to go to church for the first time, not because they are seeking spiritual guidance, but because of the free snacks. Despite the displeasure from church members, the Herdmans are all cast in roles for the Sunday school’s Christmas play. The kids go on to tell the story of Christmas in a drastically different fashion than normal.
Out of the 25 actors cast, more than half of them are ages 15 and younger.
Erin Townsend, stage manager for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, said working with kids requires a completely new dynamic altogether.
“It is very different working with kids; they have a much different energy than adult actors,” Townsend said. “It is difficult getting them to focus. As you work with them and they learn their lines and staging, things smooth out. It is very rewarding working with the kids.”
Maniglia said many of the children in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever were recruited from Theatrikos’ TheatriKids program.
“A number of them were in our TheatriKids program over the summer,” Maniglia said. “I contacted them, and a good one-third of the TheatriKids auditioned for the show.”
The TheatriKids program provides an educational opportunity for kids to learn the workings of a play and obtain hands-on experience in a theatrical performance. Theatrikos makes different workshops geared toward lighting, directing, writing and improvisation.
Maniglia said director Alisa Davis and assistant director Dennis Hattem did a great job in casting the various children’s roles.
“If you have read the book, you know the main characters are these wild bunch of kids, and I think the brass did a great job casting this show,” Maniglia said. “The kids that play the Herdmans look like trouble, the good church kids look like good, innocent kids. The humor really comes out because these kids are properly cast.”