The Cape Fear Regional Theater will perform “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” for the 22nd time this holiday season, directed by CFRT’s Artistic Director Tom Quaintance this year, who brings his fresh take on the classic family Christmas drama.
With three casts and 200 local kids involved, the holiday classic will have you laughing from start to finish. Audience members can expect to experience a range of emotions as they watch the unholy antics of the notorious Herdman crew unfold.
“I did not know the story before I came here,” Quaintance said. “My first experience with it was looking at the shadow box outside to the poster. I thought from that poster it was going to be a kind of sacred, sappy tale, but I came to find it was edgy.”
After reading the script and then reading the books, Quaintance said he realized that it was a great story and one he looked forward to telling. In the fall, hundreds of kids auditioned for the many roles in the production. The younger girls mostly vied for the coveted role of the feisty Gladys Herdman, and who can blame them? Who wouldn’t want to wear a cape and run around causing mischief?
“The first couple weeks of rehearsal were spent rehearsing with the main cast of characters, later adding in the other kids, because it’s hard working with 60 kids at a time and getting them to engage,” Quaintance said.
After working with youth for 13 years, Quaintance said he is no longer intimidated by the thought of managing three casts of kids and rehearsals every night. This year Quaintance shares his director duties with Associate Director Jessica “J” Powell.
Rosebud Harrison, a CFRT regular and a nine year veteran of the production, plays the role of Maxine this year.
“I’m looking forward to some of the video that Tom is incorporating into the show,” she said. Last year she played Tracy, but said her favorite role of all time has been that of Gladys.
This year marks Laura Griggs’ 12th and final year participating in the production. A seasoned veteran, Griggs will skillfully play the spiteful role, for the fourth time, of Imogene Herdman.
“The best part about being Imogene for me is that it’s her character that the audience follows through this emotional journey,” Griggs said. “It’s also the hardest part, though. She is a challenging person to capture, so I like working to reach her.”
Talent and the love of theater run deep in the the Griggs’ family. Those who frequent CFRT’s productions will recognize Ken Griggs, Laura’s father, in the role of Mr. Bradley. Ken Griggs has been involved with the show for around nine years now and has also had roles in numerous other CFRT productions.
“I love the twists that each of the directors — (Bo Thorp, Cassandra Vallery, Gina Stewart and Tom Quaintance) have worked in, but it’s still the same lovable show that still gets to me. Every. Single. Time. (That’s the way the kids say something firmly on FB),” Ken Griggs said.
“I have seen kids grow up in this show — and learn valuable lessons that they aren’t necessarily taught anywhere else. Show up on time. Never miss an entrance. Know what you are going to say before you say it. Don’t ‘coach’ another actor. Try not to fidget. Be flexible.”
“I have to laugh at how the theatre has affected my parenting style,” he said. “If my kids are grounded for some offense, they aren’t allowed to go out with their friends, no sleepovers, no babysitting jobs, no driving privileges — but they are NOT allowed to miss a performance or even a rehearsal — too many other people depend on them being there.”
“I don’t think it’s about how the Herdman’s change,” Quaintance said of the production. “It about how the town changes.”
Each year the show has small nuances that give it a unique flavor, but like last year, the edgy music combined with the quick wit and humorous quips allow the show to truly live up to its name and for the local production to get better and better each year.
For information and to purchase student tickets, contact Kathy at 910.323.4234. For public performances contact, Janis at 910.323.4233.