November 28, 2010 12:46:00 AM
Jan Swoope - firstname.lastname@example.org
"I love being out there and playing against my personality," said 14-year-old Mikaela Green of "Imogene Herdman," the rough and tough, cigar-totin'' character she''ll portray in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." The family-friendly holiday fare will be presented by the Y Drama Team Dec. 3-4, at 7 p.m., in Joe Cook Auditorium in Columbus.
For Mikaela, the daughter of Brent and Robin Green, it''s full circle. The eighth-grader at Immanuel Center for Christian Education was in this play five years ago. That''s when the Y group directed by Terri Gillis first enacted Barbara Robinson''s 1972 romp about six unruly siblings infamous for lying, stealing and general mischief. When they are cast in a church play, they wind up teaching an entire congregation about the true meaning of Christmas.
The play''s poster boasts a photo of Mikaela from the first drama team''s production.
"In our cast of about 30, we have several who are returning to this play who got to do it before, when they were younger," said Gillis, who is directing her 21st Y production. "They''re all having a great time -- you can act out, and you don''t get in trouble for it," she laughed.
As an 11th-grader at New Hope High School, 16-year-old Hannah Bateman is juggling a hectic schedule, but she''s enthusiastic about the opportunity to portray the long-suffering "Grace Bradley," who steps into to direct the pageant.
"This is my junior year: I am busy, and it''s really hard, but we all have so much fun, it makes you want to get up and go to rehearsal!" she said. "I guess you just have to share a passion for theatre and like being in a group of people who care so much and work so hard to impress other people, and do it for the right reasons."
Everyone involved in the play grows close during the rehearsal process.
"It''s really a wonderful thing that happens; they become family. They look out for each other and bless each other," Gillis said. Cast members, she noted, are pushing themselves outside the box.
"I always tell them go for it. I can always pull you back if I need to. With these particular characters, you really have to try different things with them to get what you want," she stated.
The play entails a lot of laughs, but also a lot of meaning. Gillis selected it for its spiritual significance and uplifting mood.
"We do get rather caught up in the hustle and bustle; this brings us back. There''s too much out there that leaves you sad and depressed; we want to give hope -- that''s what we want to leave the audience with."
Advance tickets for the play are $7 at any Lowndes County Y branch. Tickets at the door will be $8. For more information, contact the Frank Phillips Y at 662-328-7696.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.