For 11 years I wrote and directed a Christmas Production that was performed by children and had a cast of over 100 in acting roles, dancing roles or singing in the choir.
While you can’t go past the opportunity to tell the greatest story ever told, what I loved was seeing children being able to gain so much enjoyment from having an opportunity to perform in front of an audience of around 1,500 people. And the children didn’t just like being on stage, they loved the rehearsals, the costume fittings, having their hair and make-up done, being sprinkled with glitter (lots of glitter – there was never any reason to pull back), and the free pizzas they enjoyed every performance night.
To put on ‘Starry Starry Night’, I worked with a team of very talented people, but we all agreed most of the talent came from our costume designer, Ali. Without her, the show just wouldn’t have had the brilliance or the ‘wow factor’ that it did. Every night the children performed you could hear an audible gasp from the audience as the next group of performers came on stage dressed and styled in Ali’s creations.
Every August my producer and I would contact Ali hoping and praying she would be keen to help out for yet another season. With three children and a full-time job we knew she didn’t have a lot of spare time. We would hold our breath for her response and try to contain ourselves when she would say she’d give it another go. ‘What do you have in mind?’ she’d cautiously ask because there didn’t seem to be any limit as to what sort of creatures I imagined could have been in the stable with Mary and Joseph.
‘Nothing challenging’, I’d say, (lying through my teeth), just perhaps some spiders, and a few moths, no more than six, and we thought perhaps the stable could have been near a stream and out of the stream could come some fish, rainbow fish, but not too many, and you know how we have a Heavenly Host? Well this year we thought it would be really cute if the Heavenly Host arrived with a team of Junior Trainee Apprentice Angels who would be gorgeous three to four year old girls but we don’t have to have too many, and …’
‘Anything else?’ ‘Not really. Except I thought that perhaps it could have been windy the night Christ was born so I thought we could have a group of girls dressed as a breeze and they could dance around with lots of flowing blue fabric’.
‘How many?’ ‘We don’t need that many. Just a few’. ‘Anything else?’ ‘Any chance of some Christmas Puddings? And some Christmas Trees?’
And even though I was making it sound like it wasn’t much, we all knew that it was. And even though I said, ‘We don’t need many’, she knew that more children would audition than we had places for and with no will to turn anyone away, six Junior Trainee Apprentice Angels would become 12 and two Christmas Puddings would become eight. But Ali would catch the vision and be ever so enthusiastic as we discussed the new show and instantly she’d have ideas swirling around in her head.
From August until December, every week at church she would arrive with a bag of things to show me (but not during the sermon!) And there would be feathers, lots of feathers, and beads and sequins and sparkles, all held in place by her hot glue gun.
They were wonderful times and very special times and apart from having the opportunity to share the greatest story ever told we hoped the children would have some very warm memories of their childhood Christmases. But as is often the case, we just didn’t know how much we would get out of this ourselves.
During the week a photographer from the church posted me a CD containing images she’d taken of three years of the production, 2006, 2007 and 2008. As I looked through the images it brought back some very special memories so I thought I’d share a few of them with you.
All images are owned and are the property of Dee Teal. To see a time when we actually had the wise men arrive on live camels and to see when Mary would arrive on a live donkey, and when Archie was a Drummer Boy and another time when he was a Narrator and when Arabella was the Angel Gabriel and when we had a moon and clouds and bumble bees in the production, please enjoy a short DVD. You need to click on ‘Starry Starry Night’ to get the video to play.
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