Spread Cheer: Historic Tale returns Home for Holiday Season

2:19 PM
THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER is back at First Stage as a new musical! The production has a long history at First Stage, first as part of the 1990-1991 season, and now in its ninth staging of this holiday favorite. And who better to speak to the longevity of the production than First Stage alumni, Molly Rhode and Karen Estrada.  

Rhode is the director for this PAGEANT. She was cast as Mindy, the narrator, in the 1990 production. 
“I was over the moon,” Rhode said. “It was my first experience with a professional company. I felt very fancy and was in awe of all the adult actors who made a living at this work.” 

Two seasons later, Rhode returned as a tech intern, and Estrada made her First Stage debut as Imogene Herdman – building upon her experience as Theater Academy student.“I remember being terrified at the audition and leaping around the living room when I got the part,” Estrada said. Estrada, who is Grace Bradley in this year’s show, stated she “… fell so hard in love with theater” in her debut.

As a musical, Rhode said this adaptation does a great job putting major plot points into song.
“The show’s conflict and emotional arc are really well-expressed in the music,” She said. “This telling is set in the early 60s, and the music pulls from that era. It's a really buoyant, upbeat score with a lot of humor and few tender surprises.” 
Even as a new musical, Rhode and Estrada still hold their passion for this treasured tale. “I'm excited to work on a new adaptation of this story I love so much,” Rhode said. “… I'm eager to share the show's message with a new generation of young actors and audiences.”
In addition to Rhode’s point, Estrada says “This show is a high energy, funny and sweet show about not giving up on kids, even kids that are not your own,” She said. “Hope, purpose and a sense of community help the Herdmans to feel they matter and it might be okay to let some of their anger go.”

Both Molly Rhode and Karen Estrada found their roles on stage with First Stage and other theaters through their training in First Stage Theater Academy. Find your perfect role at First Stage, now enrolling young people in grades K – 12 in our Winter Academy sessions. Learn more at Theater Academy.

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