The Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever
December 4, 5, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 2009

Beth BradleyMcKennan Henninger
Alice WedlekinGrace Martin
MaxineJessica Van Norman
Ralph HerdmanJohn Smith
Imogene HerdmanLynsey Jeffery
Leanne HerdmanGianna Grigalonis
Claude HerdmanStephen Sokolowski
Olive HerdmanJulia Smith
Gladys HerdmanMaggie Toner
Charlie BradleyLydia Burnett
Grace BradleySusan Burnett
Bob BradleyGary Martin
Mrs. SlocumSasha Kimiatek
Mrs. McCarthyCarrie Stack
Mrs. ArmstrongJoanne Ferrence
Beverly/Angel ChoirAlyssa Reynard
Elmer HopkinsKirill Klingaman
HollyMadison Bledsoe
DavidRhys Williams
ShawnDylan Smith
JuanitaMackenzie Lewis
DorisSoliel Hartwell
Reverend HopkinsFrank Petrie
FiremanDan Lewis
FiremanPam Dillenback
Roberta/Angel ChoirSarah Fernandez
Janet/Angel ChoirJovina Fager
Katie/Angel ChoirMegan Heyer
Lisa/Angel ChoirGwenivere Polles
Production Staff
DirectorPam Dillenbeck

Cast Photos
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Young actors shine in 'The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!'
By Myra Yellin Outwater

December 8, 2009

''The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!'' by the Pennsylvania Playhouse is a delightful piece of holiday fluff designed to amuse and entertain family audiences.

The show tells the story of the transformation of the streetwise Herdman family. These five dirty, poorly behaved children have learned to survive by manipulating the system. They have no parental supervision and lie, steal, smoke cigars and bully younger children.

The play opens as these tyrants, who learn that the church offers free cookies and drinks after services, become churchgoers and then volunteer for the leads in the annual Christmas Pageant. And then, despite the fears of the other children and their parents, the pageant becomes the best Christmas Pageant Ever!

Pamela Dillenbeck does a good job of holding her large cast of 22 children and eight adults together. But true to the old theater maxim, it is hard to play opposite children, and while the adults in the cast work hard to maintain the flow of this charming story of holiday redemption, the children steal the limelight.

McKennan Henninger displays an incredible poise as Beth Bradley, the young girl who narrates and introduces the story. Lynsey Jeffrey is a swaggering know it all Imogene who, when cast as Mary, questions the traditional story and then adds her own touching realism to the play when she is overcome with maternal feelings for the Baby Jesus. John Smith plays Ralph Herdman, her overbearing boyish brother, who becomes the caring and protective Joseph in the pageant.

But it is Maggie Toner's often unpredictable posing that makes Gladys, the youngest Herdman, such a fun character. Assigned to play a peace-loving angel, Toner is exuberant and mischievous and in constant motion even to her final bow.

Joanne Ferrence adds a funny cameo as Mrs. Armstrong, who falls and lands in a hospital, and then tries to micromanage the pageant from her bed.

The set is a lovely series of ivory paneled walls decked with red Christmas bows.

''The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!'' 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 21, Pennsylvania Playhouse, Illicks Mill Road, Bethlehem. Tickets: $20, adults; $17 seniors, students. 610-865-6665, .

Myra Yellin Outwater is a freelance writer.
Copyright © 2009, The Morning Call

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