The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Ah, we’ve been waiting for this: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, produced here by the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance. Barbara Robinson’s stage play shows Christmas the way it should be, with sarcasm, irreverence and a few “shazaaammmms!” thrown in for good measure.

The six Herdman kids — certifiably the most awful children in history with a long record of lying, stealing, cussing and bullying — wander into the rehearsal for the church Christmas pageant. As always, they take over. Ralph Herdman, the oldest of the family, casts himself as Joseph after pushing the pastor’s son out of the role. Imogene Herdman, the oldest Herdman girl, connives her way into playing Mary. Leroy, Claude and Ollie Herdman play the three wisecracking men…sorry, we mean wise men.

Gladys, the youngest Herdman, plays the angel. It’s Gladys who adds the “shazaaammmmms!” to the stodgy pageant script, turning “And, lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them…” into “Shazaaammmm! Out with a vengeance in the darkness, the mighty Marvel!” It’s also Gladys who suggests they change the name of the pageant from the tired old Christmas Pageant to the more exciting, if not historically accurate, Revenge in Bethlehem. Ollie adds his own revision to the script, suggesting the wise men beat Herod up. (Needless to say, none of the other children want to play Herod after that.)

7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 4800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-743-2929 or visit $20.
Nov. 22-24, 2013

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Olivia Flores Alvarez