The holidays are a time for family gatherings and celebration, and for the past several years the
Winters Theatre Company has been pleased to join in the festivities by selecting plays which are
classified as family entertainment and whose plots feature children in the cast. This year’s play,
Barbara Robinson’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” more than fulfills the criteria. There are
several families in the plot line, and of the 30 cast members, 20 children have either major or
The story of “The Best Pageant Ever” begins with a familiar theme. A small town is preparing to
stage the annual Christmas nativity pageant, and the usual “respectable” children assume they
will have the starring roles. However, when the 6 Herdman kids, considered the terror of
teachers, parents, and students, show up at the auditions and manage to “hijack” the major
roles in the pageant, everyone is convinced that this Christmas pageant, if it is presented at all,
will be “the worst Christmas pageant ever.” As the plot unfolds, however, the audience learns
that things are not always what they seem, and both sides in the casting controversy discover
that there are still lessons in kindness, tolerance, and humanity to be learned from the story of
the stable in Bethlehem.
Some of the youngsters in the cast are seasoned performers, having appeared in earlier WTC
plays. Emilia Orosco has had featured roles since she was little more than a toddler; Mikenzie
Hapworth-Eldridge was a more than feisty singing elf in “Miracle on 34th Street” two years ago;
and Marc Velasquez appeared in both “Miracle on 34th Street and in “Fruitcakes” several years
Last year’s play, “A Christmas Story,” featured Sam Petersen in the juvenile lead role of Robbie,
who dreamed of getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Sam returns this year in the
featured role of Charlie Bradley.
Paige Davis and Garrett Matheson both appeared last year in “A Christmas Story” as friends who
shared Robbie’s real and imaginary adventures. Paige is cast as Imogene Herdman who plays
the role of Mary in the nativity scene. A seventh grader, Paige stated “After being in last year’s
play, I really wanted to be in this one.” Garrett, who plays Leroy Herdsman and a wise man,
echoes Paige’s feeling. A middle school student, he describes acting as being “really cool.”
Alex Harris, a junior high student, is making her local acting debut, but she has had previous
acting experience in several plays in Vacaville. Her favorite role was in “How the Grinch Stole
Christmas.” Alex enjoys music, acting, and singing, and describes being on stage as “challenging,
Rylie Schroeder, a ten-year-old fifth grade student at Rominger School, has the important role of
narrator. This is Rylie’s first time on the stage and she is really enjoying the experience. She
states that “rehearsals are fun. You are always laughing.” She also enjoys acting with her friends
and making new ones.
Another trouble making character is Claude Herdman. Christian Duran, a fifth grader in St.
James School in Davis, portrays this role and, in addition, sings a solo. Christian, who lives in
Winters, played the role of Danny in a Vacaville junior production of “Grease.” He states that he
enjoys both acting and singing.
Meghan McDowell is one of the younger cast members. A second grade charmer, she is making
her first stage appearance and she is really enthusiastic. When asked how she feels about being
in a play, she says “I love it, I really love it. It is one of my most favorite things.”
The Winters Theatre company invites its friends and patrons to meet all 20 of the cast children
and their 10 adult costars as they show how a potential holiday pageant disaster becomes “The
Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
Show times for “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will be Fridays and Saturdays 11-21 through
12-6 at 8pm, and Sundays 11-23 through 12-7 at 2pm. Shows will be at the Winters Community
Center, 201 Railroad Ave, in Winters. There will be a gala opening at 7:30pm on Friday 11-21,
with tickets at $15. For all other shows, tickets are $12 general, and $6 seniors and children 12
and under. Tickets can be purchased at winterstheatre.org or by calling 530-795-4014.