Best ever

Mielke production puts new spin on Christmas pageant
By: 

Carol Ryczek cryczek@newmedia.wi-org


Leader photos by Carol Ryczek Lily Bubolz, as Mary, holds “Baby Jesus” in a rehearsal for “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Ariah King waits for her cue to go on stage.

It’s not every Christmas program that includes a stolen lunches, a fistfight, and a turtle painted with a message not suitable for children.

But then, not every Christmas program can be the “Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”

The out-of-the-ordinary components in the upcoming Mielke production of Barbara Robinson’s story are all steps to the play’s more holiday-spirited conclusion, said director Mary Madsen.

“I read the book and fell in love with this play. As I was reading the ending, I realized I had tears streaming down my face,” Madsen said. “It really moved me.”

A cast of local performers will present the play based on Robinson’s book Friday through Sunday at the Mielke Arts Center.

The plot involves a predictable Christmas pageant that gets taken over by a reluctant director and unlikely cast. By the time angels are heard on high, what was once predictable has become meaningful.

The cast includes adults and a couple of dozen children. Madsen said working with them has been “a blast.”

“I let them know I listen to their ideas on what they are doing. I get their involvement. They think that’s wonderful,” she said.

It was the input from the cast that shaped this year’s performance, Madsen said. The play opens with an “alternate beginning” from last year’s version.

“The kids asked for the alternate. It starts with a good laugh in the beginning. It works really well and it was their idea,’ she said.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Mielke Arts Center, N5649 Airport Road, Shawano

TICKETS: Adults, $10; youth $5. Available at Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce, 1263 S. Main St., Shawano, at the door or online at https://shawanoarts.com