Delightful BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER at Footlighters Theater

by Laura and Keith Clattenburg

A standing ovation goes to directors Holly Gruver Franciamone and Robert Lotz and producer Carl Lotz for a job well done, putting their personal touch on THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, written by area native Barbara Robinson. The beloved Christmas show has delighted worldwide audiences since 1981. One of the cast members, Rosie Alleva, has performed every year since its premier year. The directors appeared in the debut production at ages 13 and 15, alongside Mrs. Robinson. Holly and Bob were reunited in 2011 and vowed to someday direct the show that brought them together so many years ago.

Justin D’Emilio, Owen Cutler, Brenden Lang, Will Dusinberre, Will Christman, Emmett Hillman in a scene from THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER at Footlighters Theater.

In July of 2013, Mrs. Robinson lost her valiant battle with cancer, but luckily for us, left behind this beautiful story of patience, encouragement, and acceptance.

In THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, the pageant is headed for disaster when Mrs. Armstrong (Kelly Cockshaw) breaks her leg, Grace Bradley (Abigail Hillman) is forced to direct the church’s pageant, and the six Herdman kids, “the worst kids in the whole history of the world,” are given starring roles. What is projected to be the worst Christmas pageant ever turns out to be quite the opposite.

Keith and I had the privilege of attending a memorable sold out performance this past Friday night. Cockshaw put on a good performance as the church’s annoying know-it-all director. Hillman delivers her role very well as the soft-spoken and understanding mom. We loved the look on her face when she was asked to direct the play. Ellie Sedor plays Beth Bradley, who also narrates the show. She has terrific stage presence and diction and we foresee a public speaking career in her future. Raquel Lacusky portrays an excellent Imogene, tough in the beginning, then a softer side when coddling the baby Jesus. Paige Lee is the loud-mouthed Gladys, who in the end warms hearts with her tiny yet demanding voice, proclaiming that our Savior is born, and shouting to the shepherds where to find him. Olivia Rainbow plays Alice, the personal inventory taker whose appearance and speaking voice is also outstanding.

Dalton Lotz, Brenden Kennedy, Raquel Lacusky, Alex Lannak, Brad McKenzie and Paige Lee in a scene from THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER.

There are over 30 in the cast, 25 of them are children who are definitely making Santa’s good list this year. What helps make this show so fabulous is the amount of families on stage together. It’s always a pleasure to read the program and seeing a lot of the same last names. All of the children were naturals on stage. The baby angels were adorable, the costumes were a delight, and the Herdman’s makeup and hair were thug-like spot on. The only thing we’d have added is a soundtrack for set changes and parts where there is supposed to be music playing.

Be sure to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to remember what Christmas is all about. THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER is a charming play to be sure to warm your heart. Don’t wait too long, tickets are selling fast.

Book by Barbara Robinson
Directed by Holly Grover Franciamone and Robert Lotz
December 5-20,2014
Footlighters Theater
58 Main Avenue
Berwyn, PA 19312
(610) 296-9245


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