By Jenny Neyman
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and said unto them —
“Shazam! Out of the black night, with horrible vengeance, the mighty Marvo!”
At least, that’s how it goes when Gladys Herdman plays the angel in the annual church Christmas pageant. She’s the youngest of the herd of six Herdman kids. Altogether, the brood is more unruly, ill-mannered and wild than anything that would eat out of a manger.
“They’re basically raising themselves, they run amok, they’re hoodlums, they smoke and they curse and they bully the other kids. They’re really terrible children,” said Kate Schwarzer, who’s directing “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at Triumvirate Theatre this weekend.
In the show, the pageant is a staple church tradition of the Christmas season, but the usual director is out with a broken leg, leaving eager but inexperienced Grace Bradley, played by AnnMarie Rudstrom, to take the helm. Her enthusiasm, patience and optimism know no bounds, until the Herdman kids decide to participate and bully their way into the lead roles.
“So, Imogene has volunteered to be Mary — I’ll just write that down. Now, what other names can I put on my list? Janet? Roberta? Alice, don’t you want to volunteer?” Bradley says, as other kids are too intimidated by the Herdmans to speak up.
Gladys, the youngest Herdman, played by Charli Byrd, is convinced the Angel of the Lord is a superhero, and regularly sends rehearsals off track with her dramatic outbursts.
“I know a name! I’d call it, ‘Revenge and Bethlehem!’” she shouts.