The Greatest Story Ever Told
It was the entertainment event of the season. Chock full of action, drama, faith, hope and a bunch of adorable kids in adorable costumes. It was the annual Children’s Christmas Program at the Baseline United Methodist Church, with a command performance at the Bellevue UMC.
It was an interesting concept. As you would imagine, the presentation told the story of the birth of Christ. However, the roles of the wise men were portrayed by Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Hulk, and Buzz Lightyear! Yeah, we had a few extra wise men and woman, but that’s artistic license.
The premise was that a new “Superhero” was going to be born, and put all the existing heroes out of a job. Though the course of the play, we all come to realize that the Christ child is not a threat, but indeed born to save us all from sin, and so everybody is cool and we all have Pay Day candy bars.
It was also quite unique in that the aforementioned adorable kids ALL had non-speaking rolls. Instead of having them memorize the script, adults read the roles, while the kids pantomimed the parts. And that’s where your writer comes in. I made the mistake of not attending one of the first rehearsals. Teresa was there with Z, and nominated ME to read a part. I wound up with two. First rule of management is to single out absent persons for extra responsibilities. I was Spiderman and Shepard 1.
I played Spiderman pretty straight. I tried to sound Superhero-ish. Whatever that sounds like. However, in a stroke of what I thought was genius, I came to the conclusion that Shepard 1 needed to be portrayed as a bit of a skateboarding, 1990's slacker. Think Shaggy on Scooby Do. A guy who said, “dude” and, “you know,” and “like” a lot. Reminds you of that friend of your kid that you can’t stand to hear speak. I rationalized it as an artist’s non-traditional interpretation.
This is not to say that I did not have quite a bit of internal debate about this rendering. Teresa thought it ill advised. I wondered what the reaction would be of a more traditional congregation when when one of the Shepards watching ‘ore their flocks at night says, “Man, this job is like sooooooo boring!” But judging by the laughs we garnered, I think everybody got the joke.
Now, our granddaughter Zyvah was in the program. Heavens we were so proud! Given that she’s only four, she had a more modest role, that of a lamb. But the size of the role bore no relationship to her performance therein. Yes Myrna, she made the most of her moment in the limelight. It may have slipped her mind that the focus of the on-stage attention should be Christ child. After crawling down the aisle on all four and bounding up the altar steps, she peeks her little lamb face up over the altar railing smiling and waving at the congregation. In other words, she made her presence known.
But it was a ton of fun and well received. And it’s wonderful that both adults and the kids were involved. Despite it’s non-traditional presentation, it is still the Greatest Story Ever Told.