Four churches are working together to stage “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” — and perhaps not just in name.
This is the second year that Pine River churches will perform the pageant, based on a book by Barbara Robinson and also made into a movie in 1983.
Marcy Miller, director of children’s ministry at Riverview Church, is directing the play. Riverview Church will be joined by members of Faith Assembly of God, Our Lady of Lourdes and First Lutheran, all coming together to make the production happen.
Miller said the pageant was a success last year, and she believes it will be again.
“It meshed into this amazing pageant. It was a great time of fellowship and working together,” she said. “It was good to share the true meaning of Christmas, what that meant and how Jesus changes lives.”
In all, around 50 people got involved in the play last year, and Miller estimates about the same number of participants this year.
Miller said when she approached Riverview’s pastor, Tristan Borland, about staging the pageant, he said OK, not necessarily knowing what to expect.
“I said alright, whatever,” Borland said. “Then I was really impressed.”
Miller is leading the charge again this year. She has a minor in theater and has directed plays at schools throughout her teaching career, which she continues as a Title 1 and literacy teacher at Pine River-Backus School.
The play takes place in a small town and tells the story of the Herdmans, a delinquent family of children who find themselves in church (mostly for the cookies after the service) and wind up getting parts in the pageant.
“It goes through the rehearsals, then the pageant itself. Some really wonderful things happen,” Miller said.
Miller said the play is very humorous. When they staged it last year it was set in the 1950s, but this year it will take place sometime in the 1980s. She said to expect mullets, Jane Fonda and Rubik’s cubes.
She added that while it’s a multi-church production, it still contains the classic pageant, which Riverview Sunday school students practice for.
Miller held auditions for parts in October, and the cast and crew have been rehearsing since the beginning of November.
All the proceeds from performances will go to a fund to help families in need. The money goes to items like groceries or gas cards. Last year the production raised around $460.
Suggested donation to the pageant is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Child care will be available for children ages 4 months to 4 years.
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will be performed at the Warehouse in Pine River at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 14-15, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16.