Down Art Avenue: ‘The Best Christmas Ever’ by CAST opens this weekend
by Hervey Folsom
Special to The Star
Dec 03, 2013 | 1164 views |  0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The wild Herdmans are not your storybook family, but they help make a good story in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by CAST. The comedy opens this weekend. Several situations add to the story: Mrs. Armstrong. played by Debby Mathews, is so well organized in directing the annual church pageant that she’s described as almost “being in charge of Christmas”. Michelle Bain portrays Mrs. Bradley who will direct the pageant since Mrs. Armstrong is in the hospital and Mrs. Bradley is getting little help from her family. Her husband Bob (Scott Whitney) doesn’t even want to go to it. “There’s nothing new about the Christmas pageant,” he insists.

These are the characters in the script by Barbara Robinson that contribute to the humor, delight and wonder of the holiday comedy. And what a wonder it will be if this turns out to be the best Christmas pageant ever!

Linda Lee, Laurellei Veasey and John Ross Whaley, all from Jacksonville, are featured in the play. Laurellei and John are students at Kitty Stone School and Linda Lee has played comedy roles in several CAST productions. Also, JSU student Brandon Vick is helping out with sound and lights in the play.

Based on the continual best-selling children’s book, THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER is a family – friendly production that has been a hit with young and old alike. It is produced each year in schools, churches and theaters throughout the United States. Tickets are $15 adults, $10 for students and may be purchased online at or at the door. Group rates are available for parties of 12 or more and admission to Thursday night performances at CAST is always “Pay-What-You-Want-Night”.

Finding Christmas in a different way

This is a tale of a traditional Christmas Pageant being turned on its ear by the addition of the wildly unruly Herdman children who demand to have key roles in the annual church production.  Amid the mayhem and fun that result, the church congregation learns tolerance, the Herdmans find the true meaning of Christmas, and audience members have a delightful time as they are treated to a whole new take on the Nativity Story.

“I love this play,” said Lee who plays Edna McCartney, one of the church ladies who are sure the church is headed for trouble because of the Herdmans. “In the end, Mrs. McCartney sees the beauty of all people including those she disapproves of, even Imogene Herdman who smokes cigars! The play has a wonderful message.” said Lee.

Laurellei, who is in the sixth grade at Kitty Stone, has now been in seven CAST plays and she’s likely to keep auditioning for roles. “I like doing this because it helps me express myself in different ways,” she said. John Ross, who plays a shepherd in “Pageant” is in the second grade and likes math and “getting my homework done on time,” he said.

The cast will present the play at Weaver School on the morning of Dec. 13.

It will be performed at the McClellan Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on December 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14 and at 2:30 p.m. on December 8 and 15.  For more information call 256-820-2278(CAST) or go to
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