The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Arrives at Depot Theatre

Youth Players present Barbara Robinson’s Christmas classic

By Alison Rooney

Every Christmas pageant has a few quirks, and maybe a sloppy shepherd hat or two, but not every Christmas pageant has the Herdmans. This group of unruly kids lands in the pageant unexpectedly, and, after much disruption, chaos, craziness and a lot of laughter, help to show the true meaning of Christmas. It’s all part of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which plays for the next two weekends at the Depot Theatre.

Speaking for herself and Co-Director Jenn Lee, Lisa Sabin said, “This is an incredibly talented group of kids, with amazing energy and creativity. Channeling this into ‘controlled chaos’ is resulting in a show that will be so much fun for the audience. And the kids are enjoying being allowed to ‘misbehave’ on cue!”

Mollie, left, and Josie Altucher, two of the stars of the show (photo courtesy of Anne Vitiello)

Sisters Josie and Mollie Altucher are Depot Youth Theatre veterans, having appeared in multiple productions, and are enjoying their first breakout roles in this one, after ensemble or one-line kinds of roles earlier.

They’ve enjoyed it all. Josie enthused. “This is my third play here. What makes it enjoyable is the kind of family we form as a cast. Each cast is different and unique, but they are all really fun. I like working with the different directors every year. I learn something different with every play I do at the Depot, and I have had a lot of fun whether I had a big role or a small one.”

Mollie felt much the same. “At the Depot Theatre I not only enjoy participating in their wonderful plays, but I have made new friends during these plays, which makes everything twice as fun. This is my third performance at the Depot Theatre, and each experience has been great in its own way.”

The underlying message of the play isn’t lost on either girl, and in describing the play, Josie could well have been describing the Depot Youth Theatre process overall: “In controlling the chaos at [the pretend] rehearsals, it’s a challenge to make the Herdmans understand the meaning of what they are doing, of the pageant itself. In the end, though, they show the most meaningful and unforgettable care at the performance.”

Mollie added, “The Herdmans aren’t the only tough part of the group. I think that the kids are used to having the pageant and Sunday school to themselves and aren’t exactly trying very hard to make this the best Christmas pageant ever. This Christmas pageant not only teaches the Herdmans about the joys of Christmas, but it teaches the other characters how to deal with having kids who are different from them involved.”

The mischievous cast of the show (Photo courtesy of Depot Theatre)

Charlotte Palmer-Lane is designing the costumes, Donald Kimmel the lighting, and Hudson Heckert will be operating the light board. This drama (with a little music) includes, in addition to the Altuchers: Fallon Barry; Emilia Barth; Erika Bauer; Joseph Carmicino; John Liam Eng-Wong; Paige Flanagan; Julie Geller; Henry Heckert; Cate Kanlong; Jocelyn Lane; Sasha Levy; Hudson Lovell; Valerie Mancuso; Andrew Nachamkin; Tanya Needham; Jeremy and Justin Roffman; Anna Rowe; Emerson Smith; Sophia Stark; Simone Straus; and Freya and Ronan Wood-Gallagher.

Tickets are $12 each and are available at brownpapertickets.com. Performances are Friday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 8, at 4 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 9, at 2 p.m.; and Saturday, Dec. 15, at 4 and 7 p.m. Call 845-424-3900 for more information.

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