In the final moment of this Castle Hill production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at the New Stage Performing Arts Center Gladys Herdman (Grace Kelley) tears on to the stage in a raggedy angel costume – she is playing the Angel of the Lord who appears unto the shepherds – stares straight into the eyes of the audience, points dramatically, and shouts “Unto YOU a child is born!”
“And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.”
– Edmund Sears, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
I was really surprised by the direct religious message in this play, which, although it has been around in one form or another for almost four decades, I have managed never to see or read before. And even more surprised to learn from Castle Hill Producer Nicki Wilson that it’s the most popular Christmas story among today’s teachers and students. Wow! I didn’t think that anything this overtly religious could be read or taught in American public schools. I am happy to learn that I’m wrong and I hope there are similar engaging tales to introduce kids to the world’s other major religions.