The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Havana Theatre, 1212 Commercial Drive, Vancouver    (Directions)
December 6-16, 2018
-  Wednesday-Saturday evening shows begin at 7:30pm.
-  Saturday/Sunday matinees begin at 2:00pm.

Naked Goddess Productions is excited to present The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson.

In this lively Christmas classic, the six Herdman kids, or "the worst kids in the history of the world", take over the annual Christmas pageant. Filled with mayhem and fun, this hilarious and heartwarming story is sure to be a favourite part of your holiday season!

Director: Tamara McCarthy
Assistant Director: Sandra Medeiros
Set Design: Daniel Wiebe
Sound Design: Nico Dicecco
Lighting Design: Celeste English
Costumes/Props: Ella Heatley-Mulhall
Scenic Painter: Hristina Hristozova
Photography: Angelo Renai

Featuring:
Melissa Oei
Eric Regimbald
Maria J. Cruz
Sandra Medeiros
Amelie Love
Madeline Angel
Charlotte Clayton
Milan Gill
Pavel Piddocke
Luciano Leroux
Brendan Clelland
Ana Trajkovic
Olivia A
Vivian Brulot
Joanna Piddocke
Aias Dalman
Peter Gereb
Alix Lefler



Reviews:
Jo Ledingham, Jo Ledingham Theatre Reviews

  This may not be the best Christmas pageant ever but it sure is the rowdiest. Presented by Naked Goddess Productions under the direction of Tamara McCarthy, fourteen kids, one doll and four adults re-enact the Nativity as you've never seen it before. Or maybe, if you're a Sunday School teacher, perhaps you have experienced it, in which case you may still be recovering.

Written by Barbara Robinson, it's a Christmas pageant that goes off the rails when the highly organized but unpopular Mrs. Armstrong (Maria J. Cruz), who has always directed the Sunday School pageant, takes a tumble, breaks some bones and ends up unable to carry on.

But things go from bad to worse when Charlie Bradley (Milan Gill), inadvertently tempts the six Herdman kids - "the worst kids in the history of the world" - to participate in the pageant. Known bullies, they're seriously bad-ass kids who steal other kids lunches and persist in beating up their schoolmates. They've never been to Sunday school before and bedlam breaks out when the sextet from Hades turn up to audition.

Coerced into taking over from the draconian Mrs. Armstrong is Charlie's mother Mrs. Bradley (Melissa Oei) who is determined to make it the best Christmas pageant ever - if only to spite Mrs. Slocum (Cruz again) and Mrs. McCarthy (Sandra Medeiros) who don't think she's up to the task.

Intimidated by the Herdman bunch, none of the other kids dares to audition so nose-ringed tomboy Imogene Herdman (Amelie Love) ends up being Mary and Ralph Herdman (Pavel Piddocke) is Joseph. The other four Herdmans are all given roles, too. With chaos breaking out all over, Mrs. Bradley wonders how she is going to pull off the pageant at all.

This is all pretty lightweight but it raises some interesting issues especially given our multi-cultural environment. We can't assume all kids these days know the story of how Joseph and Mary made their way to Bethlehem. The Biblical language is confusing: what does "great with child" mean to youngsters? "Swaddling clothes"? "Manger"? Even adults have trouble with "frankincense and myrrh". The Herdman kids ask all the right questions.

Apart from all the fun these young performers have racing all over the set and enjoying complete chaos, there is a sweetness to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever that touches the heart: firstly, the beauty of the story finally sinks in to Imogene who tenderly holds the baby Jesus doll with which she had previously had been playing tug-of-war. And secondly, the gift one of the Herdman kids offers to the Christ child is a ham - obviously, for a family down on its luck, a very precious item. Sure, maybe the kids stole it from the family fridge but, in the spirit of Christmas, I like to think that Ma and Pa Herdman offered it up.

For everyone involved in this show, this is a labour of love. It's a good play for kids to see as they will relate to the actors who appear to range in age from about five to fifteen. They will love the over-the-top performance of little Olivia A (as Gladys, youngest of the Herdman tribe); you may not understand one word she shrieks - but you will understand that she is confusing her role as the Angel of the Lord with something out of a Marvel comic book.

Amazingly, the story of the Nativity emerges out of all the pandemonium and once again, with the help of Christmas carols sung by the young ensemble, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever asks us to pause and reflect.

Erica Wong, Vancouver Bits & Bites

  This holiday season, if you are looking to get out of the cold and liven up your holiday spirit, you'll have to visit Havana Theatre on the Drive. For a limited time showing now until December 16, 2018, Naked Goddess Productions presents to you, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a lively and comedic playwright directed by multiple Jessie Award nominated director Tamara McCarthy and based on Barbara Robinson's 1972 enormously popular and bestselling novel. This Christmas classic has previously been adapted into a television movie and musical. This production surprised me on several aspects, notably the young professional actors, although small in size, their voices were loud and created large smiles and laughter among the audience.

Without providing spoilers or teasers, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, is definitely not your run-of-the-mill Christmas pageant. The play starts with narrations by the charming 11 year-old Charlotte Clayton, who plays Beth Bradley. She introduces the characters and how the worst Christmas pageant was salvaged by her mother, Grace Bradley, played by talented Melissa Oei. Furthermore, Beth's brother, Charlie Bradley, played by Milan Gill, tricks and entices school bullies, the six Herdman children, who are notably "the worst kids in the history of the world," to participate in the church Christmas pageant, causing comedic chaos for Grace. Luckily, Grace is supported by her dynamic and witty husband Bob Bradley, played by Eric Regimbald, who plays the role perfectly with just the right amount of dad jokes.

Without knowing the premises of the play or have read the novel, I found myself enjoying this production very much, anticipating the best for Grace, and hoping the six Herdman children would just be a tad less rebellious. The narration by Beth, organised and successfully carried the play til the end. The touching finale of the play almost led me to shed a tear. With the close proximity of the stage, I felt submerged in the action, feeling the laughter, chaos, and energy of this heartwarming story. My heart jumped for joy when the Christmas Pageant became a success after all!

The intimate and unique Havana Theater environment reminded me of a small local theater I visited while I was in London, UK. I was surprised by the sound quality of the room, which projected the voices well. The set, although small, was a perfect fit for the theme of the play. The angel choir was magical and reminded me of my own childhood experience, participating in the annual church pageant and singing the same melodies that I had once sang. My heart was full of Christmas cheer once I left. Make sure to get a seat in the center of the stage for the best view and make this 60 minute nostalgic production part of your date night or holiday activity!

Josh Cronkhite, Theatre Addicts Vancouver

It's that time of year again, time to put on the same old community Christmas pageant! But wait, who invited the Herdmans?! The most despicable, lying, cheating, stealing kids in the whole world! They know nothing about the sanctity of this much loved event, nor anything about the story of Christmas. They are steadfast on making this pageant their own, and, quite possibly, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!

This heartfelt holiday comedy play within a play is full of everything you would want from an all-ages Christmas show, complete with a compassionate change of heart and everything magically coming together at the last minute. The number of young performers in the cast were particularly impressive in their level of skill, one young lady positively burning with exuberant energy.

Ed Farolan, reviewVancouver

It's refreshing to have Christmas Pageants performed outside school or churches, and likewise, seeing children act in them.

I was in the matinee performance last December 8th and the small theatre was jampacked. I believe the show was sold out. I was w2ith my 11-year old granddaughter and she enjoyed the show. She found it "funny and creative."

Special kudos goes to Charlotte Clayton whose role was that of a narrator and also singing in the chorus of angels. Olivia A was over-energetic, but delivered her role as the hyper-kid really well. The adults in the play delivered equally well, names we often see in the Vancouver theatre scene: Melissa Oei, Eric Regimbald, Maria J. Cruz and NGP producer Sandra Medeiros.

The show will go on till December 16th. Be sure not to miss it.

Audience Review

I had the privilege of seeing this play last night. It was FANTASTIC. Great story, songs and an amazing amount of talent. Add this to your family to do list before Xmas. I give this play a BIG 5 Star 👍.

Audience Review

Bravo to all on a great fun show!

Audience Review

It was AMAZING! My family loved it; even my son who isn't easy to please smiled and laughed many times during the play. 5 STARS!

Audience Review

4 thumbs way up!

Audience Review

Loved it!!!! So good. The kids' acting was amazing!

Audience Review

A totally awesome performance...it was simply endearing to watch the kids and their support adults shine!

Audience Review

We LOVED the show!!! Those kids are having a blast!!