an amateur production in the purest sense of the word.
This is not to say this Pageant is not as good as a
professionally produced production. The word amateur
derides from the Latin word "amator,"
which attributes a love to the work. The truth is
that the Fort Lauderdale Christmas Pageant rivals many
of the productions visiting the Broward Center for the Arts.
Production and casting begins in August with the goal
of producing three weeks of high energy shows in
December. This Pageant is the work of a very large
community starring nearly 1200 volunteers. The
strength of this production is the diversity of the
entertainment brought forth by these people. In the
last two years, the Christmas Pageant rehearsal schedule
has been mired by hurricanes named Frances,
Jeanne, Katrina and Wilma.
The first half of the show featured traditional
Christmas entertainment with contemporary influences.
At one moment the audience is witnessing a Lawrence
Welk inspired winter waltz with a Courier & Ives
backdrop. Two scenes later, the High School Choir
conducts an electronic tribute to Dr. Seuss famous
curmudgeon, the Grinch. The first act concluded with
a fire cracker finale which featured Gospel singer Rose
Tennie, a veteran from the Chicago music scene.
The second act strives for a deeper meaning when it
presents the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Divided by seven scenes, this act rivals the cinematic
biblical epics produced by Cecil B. DeMille. In
particular the Marketplace Scene features an upbeat
song ("Sing Hallelujah!") sung by the cast of
hundreds. While performing this number, the cast is
costumed in Jerusalem attire circa 33AD and escort
live donkeys, goats and big camels.
The Second Act features some emotional moments. One
quiet moment featured Audley Willacey singing "Watch
the Lamb" to a young Shepard boy who has lost his
sheep. This poignant scene occurs moments before
Jesus is nailed to the cross. Of course the
resurrection of Jesus becomes a spine tingling moment.
While attending the Dillard School of Performing Arts,
I was fortunate enough to be involved in two major
musicals at Parker Playhouse. My first musical was
"The King and I" which featured Deerfield's own
Anita Nelson and Jeff Crevier as the King of Siam. The
following year Lorie Parento became Dolly Levi in
"Hello, Dolly!", Dillard's last show at Parker
Playhouse. Through the years I lost track of Jeff and
Lorie, only to discover they work locally creating
this exceptional Fort Lauderdale Christmas Pageant.
While seating is scare, tickets can be found by
calling (954) 527-6800 or visit the website
If you miss the live performance,
you can see a taping
on your local
PBS station on Christmas Eve!