Two long-time members of the Springfield Area Nativity Theatre Association — Dennis Potter as the shepherd, and Ed Meidl, the king — meet the newest member, eight-week-old Cain Larson and his mother, Abby (Mrs. John) Larson, who will portray Mary and Baby Jesus in 2017 Springfield Nativity Pageant.

It’s time to tell the Christmas story

The Springfield Area Nativity Theatre Association will present the Springfield Nativity Pageant for the thirty–second season this weekend with one performance under the stars in Riverside Park at 7:00 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9.

The “Little Town of Bethlehem” was set in the football field in Riverside Park by a large crew of volunteers Saturday morning.   

Rehearsals for cast and choir are underway, and they’ll come together at 6:00 Thursday evening for a dress rehearsal with animals and full audio and visual effects.  Cast members are reminded to be in the dressing rooms at the municipal pool bathhouse at 5:15 so they will be dressed and ready to perform by 6:00.

Abby (Mrs. John) Larson is delighted to portray Mary in this year’s pageant.  She has had previous pageant experiences as a member of the innkeeper’s family one season, and as a scribe in another year.  The opportunity to have the role of Mary is “such an honor,” she said, and it is very special for her to bring her eight-week-old son, Cain, to portray Baby Jesus.  “He was born without a heartbeat and had to be resuscitated. It’s a miracle” she recalled. “It’s such an honor to have this opportunity.”  The Larsons’ daughter, Julian, 9, and son, Logan, are also shepherds in the pageant.

The role of Joseph will be played by Josh Doughty, pastor of the Springfield United Methodist Church.

The three kings will be played by Ed Meidl, Dan O’Callaghan and John Fank.

Shepherds are Dan Koopman and daughter Stacy, Chris Petersen and daughter Brooklyn, Curt Saffert and son Augie, Dennis Potter and grandchildren Kiera Lafferty and Kieren Lafferty, Phil and Phalayne Gill and their son Jakob, and Martin Larson and grandchildren, Julian and Logan.

Liz Klabunde will play the role of Mary as she appears to Elisabeth, who is played by Crystal Dauer.

Springfield High School Principal Pat Moriarty has the role of King Herod. 

Cliff and Sarah Heglund and their children Eli, Easton and Gia will portray the Innkeeper and family.

The cast includes others as scribes, angels and townspeople.

Jennie Vanderwerf and Jill Moriarty are choreographers of the angels. Chassidy Vanderwerf will portray the Angel Gabriel. 

The biggest crew of all, however, is behind the scenes — in the lighting booth, in the sound booth, lighting the lanterns along the walkway to “Bethlehem,” assisting cast members dress in their costumes, bringing in the animals, birds and wares for the marketplace, and others who serve as ushers, census takers, 4-Hers preparing after-pageant hospitality, and various other jobs. 

Nick Dauer is technical director. 

Justin “Hoover” Hillesheim is artistic director.   

Joyce Schwarzrock is music director.  

Jack Hartjes is narrator.

Ben Luense is chairman of set and staging.

Lucy Potter is in charge of costumes. 

Mark Clennon is lighting coordinator.

Church representatives who take charge of recruitment of cast members and carry out fundraising activities are Jeff Krueger from St. Paul Lutheran, Bev Fults from St. Raphael Church, Arliss Petersen and Marian Thorston from St. John Lutheran, Jan Krieg from Zion Lutheran, and Lucy Potter from the United Methodist Church.

SANTA’s executive board, finance committee includes Edward Meidl, Mark Clennon, Edna Petersen and Doris Weber. 

All are invited to come to the pageant and experience the true meaning of Christmas. The pageant is presented free of charge, a gift from the community of Springfield. Dress warmly and comfortably for the outdoors.   You are encouraged to bring blankets and stadium robes if you wish. 

The Burnstown-Brookville 4-H Club will be serving hot beverages and cookies in the Springfield Area Community Center following each performance.   All are encouraged to stop in, warm up, enjoy refreshments and friendship. 

Springfield Advance-Press

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