Kai West gives notes to her cast and crew for VPA's adaptation of ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.'

WASILLA — Valley Performing Arts is preparing to unveil a local rendition of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” scheduled to open to the public next weekend.

With just a week of rehearsals left before the big day, director Kai West said that she’s excited to show off all the hard work her cast and crew put in to make this holiday classic come to life on the VPA stage.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful play to open the Christmas season,” West said.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a children’s novel written by Barbara Robinson that tells the story of six misfit children who volunteer to star in their town’s Sunday school Christmas pageant and end up teaching the town what Christmas is all about.

“I love that it tells the true meaning of Christmas in a fun and exciting way,” West said. “I think we really needed to come back and do some theater.”

According to West, this play features a lot of new actors across generations. She said that’s indicative of VPA’s open and inviting atmosphere the invited the public to keep the “community” in community theater.

“We welcome newcomers all the time, on the stage or behind the scenes,” West said.

West is a teacher at Shaw Elementary. She’s taught in the Mat-Su School District for over two decades and has been involved with VPA and the local theater community for just as long. She said it makes a huge difference in these kids’ daily lives and overall growth on top of fostering the next generation of young actors and stagehands to keep the Valley’s theater culture going.

“It is a blessing and these kids need to be active. They’re already full of great ideas and they really thrive on stage. I’m so glad that VPA is open. I’m glad that we can fill the theater for these kids.”

13-year-old, Mac Nelson said this is his first time playing in a full-on production aside from his involvement in small plays with his church. He said he saw posts about the auditions on Facebook and decided to go for it, and he’s glad that he did.

“I think it’s very addictive. I think it’s a great hobby that everybody should try,” Nelson said. “I’m hunting down the next show I can audition for.”

Jennah Beard, 14, said that she’s participated in several local productions and summer camps. She said that she appreciates VPA’s supportive environment that provides opportunities to people of all ages.

“I love the people. They’re always so friendly. I love spending time in the theater. Just being in here is so comforting,” Beard said.

Laura Horning has been involved with VPA for many years. She said that she directs plays their summer drama program, and she thinks it’s an ideal place for individuals and families to grow an appreciation for the stage and grow closer together as a community.

“I really enjoy that it’s good, quality theater, and it’s small. I like the community feel. I love getting to know more people each time. It feels like a family,” Horning said.

Donna Young said this is her first time acting ever. She said that she’s been an avid supporter of VPA and watched their shows since the beginning, and she’s thankful for taking the leap and getting involved.

“In fact, I’ve already got a part in another play coming up. I got the bug,” Young said with a laugh. “Give it a try. Even if you don’t get a part the first time, there’s so many things to be done and it’s fun to just get involved in the whole process.”

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” opens Nov. 26 and the final show is Dec. 19. Performances run Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Additional matinees may be added to the schedule.

For more information about VPA and their upcoming production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” call 907-373-0195 or visit valleyperformingarts.org.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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