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Cast of the 25th live nativity pageant. Courtesy photo.




Live Nativity Pageant

When: Saturday, Dec. 13, and Sunday, Dec. 14, at 6 and 7 p.m.
Where: Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 110 Concord St, Nashua
See: Find  “Nashua Annual Live Nativity Pageant” on Facebook




Shepherds, wisemen, angels and animals
Nashua church hosts live Nativity

12/11/14
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



While they may not have a camel, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Nashua have chickens, goats and a whole team of actors to bring an authentic Christmas experience to the community for the 26th annual live Nativity pageant on Saturday, Dec. 13, and Sunday, Dec. 14.

“It’s really an opportunity for us to give a gift back to the community, to share the Christmas spirit,” said Meesa Jeans, pageant producer. “I think there’s something that is more engaging by putting on a live Nativity, both for the audience and for the people involved.”
The outdoor nativity pageant is part play, part scripture reading. Actors silently perform a 20-minute enactment of the birth of Christ on a stage set up between the church and Greeley Park while a recorded reading with excerpts from the second chapter of Luke and traditional, choir-sung carols serves as the audio backdrop.
The live Nativity tradition began in 1988 when the bishop was inspired by a similar pageant put on by a church in Canada. He thought it would be neat to host one in Nashua, so church members assembled costumes and built a set right outside of the church. “We had a small audience in attendance, but it was a very spiritual experience,” church member John Larsen said in an email. “Everyone loved it so much that we decided to continue.”
Since that first pageant, a new set was built and the sound system was updated, but the main components of the performance remain the same. Counting behind-the-scenes staff, directors, managers and actors, around 40 to 50 people are involved. The actors are mostly volunteers from the congregation; anyone who wanted to be a part of it was welcome. Jeans said in a phone interview that both returning performers and new faces love the chance to be an angel, shepherd or townsperson, the roles that have the most participants. 
A live Nativity wouldn’t be complete without animals. The animals involved in the pageant vary from year to year, depending on which are available. 
“We reach out to the congregation and people who have animals,” Jeans said. 
Animals actors that may reprise their roles from previous years are pygmy goats, chickens, horses and a donkey.
Guests can take in the full view of the live Nativity from folding chairs set up around the stage area. An outside, evening performance in December can be very cold, and the actors dress accordingly. 
“The costumes are more like robes, so people bundle up underneath,” Jeans said.
Following each enactment, guests can head into the church for a Christmas open house featuring cookies and hot chocolate. Jeans said coloring pages and crafts will be available for children, and there may be a photo booth for people to get their pictures taken in the costumes. 
Church members will also be available to answer any questions about the performance or the church. 
 
As seen in the December 11, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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