Trike Theatre presents ‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

<br>Trike Theatre presents ‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

The Herdman children are described as “the most inventively awful kids in history.” Imogene, Claude, Ralph, Leroy, Ollie and Gladys lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear and pick on other children.

They are the anti-heroes of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” back for its second holiday season at Trike Theatre in Bentonville.

The story revolves around the disruptive family showing up for the church Christmas program — largely because they heard there were snacks involved. Frightened, the other children refuse to express interest in the leading roles, and the Herdmans find themselves cast as Joseph, Mary and the Wise Men.

“This production of ‘BCPE’ is actually a remount from the production that we staged last year that, unfortunately, had to be cut short due to covid,” says its director, Justin Mackey. “The original director has since moved on to work with a different company, so I jumped at the chance to get to be a part of this project.

“This is actually not my first time working with both Trike and ‘BCPE,’” he adds. “I’ve been working with Trike in several capacities since 2019, and funnily enough I was actually a performer in a production of this show in Michigan back in 2012 where I played the father.

“I try to approach every show by first finding the heart of the script. What’s the message? Why is this story being told? With a show like this that has been around for a while and is fairly well known, it can be tempting to try to put a new ‘spin’ on it to shake things up,” Mackey muses. “But I’ve found that sometimes that can distract from what the show is actually about.

“My thought is that, with a new cast and crew, each production is always inherently going to be different from the last. My job is to help the actors connect with their characters’ values in a way that feels true to them, and each actor approaches a character with a different set of values themselves. If they can connect even one of their own values with one of their character’s, it can lead to a moment of truth on stage that is exactly what keeps the audience coming back.”

Mackey is originally from Michigan, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in theater at Grand Valley State University before pursuing an MFA in acting at the University of Arkansas.

“I started doing theater in high school, where I thought it would be just a fun hobby,” he admits. “Turns out, it was something that I wanted to devote the rest of my life to. I’m not sure that I can put into words exactly what attracts me to this art form, but I can say that nobody ever leaves a good performance feeling indifferent.

“My favorite part of working on this production has been all of the excitement and hard work that the young performers have brought into the room,” Mackey adds. “I’m continuously amazed at how dedicated and professional these students can be. It makes the work feel less like work and more like play.

“Apart from the general feeling of holiday cheer, I hope that everyone walks away from this show with a more open heart,” Mackey concludes. “I think in today’s world, with everyone struggling to provide for themselves and their families, it’s easiest to harden ourselves to get by, and it’s nice to be reminded that we’re all in this together.”



‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

WHEN — 7 p.m. Dec. 9; 3 & 7 p.m. Dec. 10; 7 p.m. Dec. 16; and 3 & 7 p.m. Dec. 17

WHERE — Trike Theatre, 902 S.W. Second St. in Bentonville

COST — $15


Categories: Family Friendly