The three actors sitting around the table at Cape Fear Regional Theatre are a little different than the norm. They laugh, giggle and speak confidently about their characters. When asked what they want to do for a living, two of the three confidently answer "actor" without hesitation. The biggest difference for these particular actors is that their respective ages are eight, nine and eleven. While this is not the typical age line up for actors at the theatre, it is for the annual showing of Best Christmas Pageant Ever. This year is Cape Fear Regional’s 32nd showing.
“I have been doing theatre since I was six,” says Hannah Molina, who plays Beverly in the upcoming Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
This is Hannah’s second year as Beverly in BCPE. She sits, bounces a little in her seat and wears a huge smile when she talks about the show and her character. Across the table from her sits Eddie Pfender, who will be one of the actors playing Charlie in the show. Eddie is self-assured and confident as he speaks about his part. Although he admits he really wanted to play Ollie, he says he is still happy to play Charlie.
“I don’t even care what role I get,” he says. “ … As long as I’m in the play.”
In just a week, these actors will take the stage and watch as the Herman family kids go from being known as the worst kids in town to starring in a church’s Christmas pageant.
“They just destroy the pageant,” Eddie says laughing. “There is a scene where Imogene
sets fire to the church.”
Hannah and Crystina Arnold, who plays a baby angel in the play, smile and nod along as they each try to retell what they think the play is about.
“What is really important about the show is that there is a change in these Hermans … They find so much more than they expected. They find solace in this Christmas story as they learn about Jesus. You see this big change,” Jennifer Sell, the show’s director, says. “It’s their revival story.”
This year, the staff at Cape Fear Regional Theatre decided on four different casts for the production due to the number of kids that came out for auditions. The casts will rotate showings and days.
“Between all four casts we have almost 200 kids,” says Sell. “We had to expand our cast.”
While this is one of the hardest things about the year’s production of BCPE, Sell says it's also one of the best parts as well.
“There are so many kids. You get to work with so many different kids with so many different personalities … they all build their characters and it's really cool to see them come into their own being.”
The productions will run December 2nd through the 17th and include 16 showings for field trips for local schools, which have already sold out and have a long waiting list.
“Each cast is here twice a week for rehearsal,” Sell says. “They each will do one day of school shows and one weekday evening performance and one weekend performance.”
Tickets range between $11 for kids and $16 for adults. There will be a military appreciation night during the first week of the production. For more information visit www.cfrt.org.