‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ brings families together—fictional and real-life

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The Herdman siblings take over the town’s annual holiday pageant. Photo provided.

Known as ‘the worst kids in the history of the world,’ the six Herdman siblings shake up the town’s annual holiday pageant in an unexpected way in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by South Carolina Children’s Theatre. 

Imogene, Claude, Ralph, Leroy, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman were abandoned by their father and have a mother who works two jobs. Left to tend to themselves, the siblings are quite the troublemakers and bullies. However, the pageant changes them just as they change the pageant.

Betsy Bisson, SCCT artistic/education director, calls the play a “great story of redemption.” “It is a great holiday tradition for families to do together,” she says. “I hope [audiences] leave with a real appreciation for their own families and maybe pause to think how difficult that first Christmas was for Mary, or any new mom.”

Photo by Escobar Photography.

Bisson directs this holiday production and unusually large 52-member cast. “Due to the nature of the casting needs, we were able to cast parents and kids together, which is always cool,” Bisson says.

One mother-daughter duo, Jenny Humphries and 10-year-old Maddie Humphries, makes their MainStage debut in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Maddie has been taking classes at SCCT for seven years now, and her mother has been taking the adult classes. In this production, Jenny Humphries plays the role of church lady Vera Clark, and Maddie Humphries is in the angel choir.

“It has been a blast doing a show with Maddie,” Jenny Humphries says. “Towards the end of rehearsals, the cast spends a lot of time at the theater, so it’s really nice to spend that time together.” Also making it a memorable experience is the fact that several other parent-child combos were cast in the show. “It adds to the feeling of the cast becoming a family throughout the process of the show,” she says.

Photo by Escobar Photography.

The opening performances were so well received that an additional Saturday, Dec. 8, evening show was added to the schedule. “‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ is a great way to get into the holiday spirit,” Jenny Humphries says.

Another family actor pair in the show, first-timer Hunter Weekes and son Adam Weekes, play the roles of Reverend Hopkins and Charlie Bradley, a frequent target of Leroy Herdman. Adam Weekes, age 11, has participated in SCCT summer workshops over the past few years and been in two MainStage productions.

“It’s a lot of fun for both of us,” Hunter Weekes says. “Adam really enjoys the process, and it has truly been a privilege for me to get to be so involved. It’s been a great bonding experience and will be a memory that will last forever.”

The fun atmosphere created by the diverse cast is one of Hunter Weekes’ favorite aspects of the production. “The cast members are great kids, encouraging one another and celebrating each other’s progress and accomplishments,” he says.

Hunter Weekes agrees with Jenny Humphries that “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is a must-see this holiday season—for young and old. “The story is fun, funny and heartwarming,” he says. “But, the awesome cast and crew really bring it together.”

Show times

Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 8 at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 9 at 1:30 p.m.

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