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Life and Arts

An updated and merry Christmas pageant

A young child in a gold-adorned white robe stood stage right bathed in a spotlight’s glaring luminance. “And soon, the wise men came to the manger,” the haloed-tyke proclaimed. Pretty standard Christmas pageant stuff — until the angelic adolescent threw in a kicker: “…along with other assorted characters.”

And assorted they were — from the traditional Gospel gathering of Mary, Joseph and a heavenly host of angels, to a Felliniesque flock that included Lady Gaga, Elton John, Abraham Lincoln, Las Vegas show girls, cheerleaders, cowpokes, hula dancers, Cap’n Crunch, Santa Claus, Bing Crosby, Charlie Brown and a “Star Wars” stormtrooper.

While one could easily be convinced they were caught up in a heavily-spiked-nog-leaden-dream, for parishioners of Burbank’s Westminster Presbyterian Church it was just business as usual as the Buena Vista Street church presented their highly unconventional seventh annual Christmas show this past week. Staged as “Nativity! The Musical,” this hysterical and yet touching blend of the Christmas story and pop culture has become a renowned yuletide experience that has earned fans from well beyond the Burbank borders.

Written and directed by Melissa and Greg Baldwin, produced by the church’s pastor, Paul Clairville and his wife, Carol, and staged by Imagine, the Westminster Pres drama ministry, this year’s show included hilarious scenes that included a few Charlie Sheen jokes, an occupy the palace protest of King Herod’s place, TSA workers shaking down wise men for exporting contraband frankincense and orange jump-suited inmates from the Bethlehem Department of Corrections serving as stage hands.


Beginning with the opening number — a play on Lady Gaga’s hit “Born This Way” reworked as “He Was Born This Day” — the show was heavily peppered with the modified-lyrics of songs from Broadway and the Beatles to the Rolling Stones and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

“It’s OK to be serious about your faith, but not about yourself,” said Pastor Clairville, who joined his wife in the production portraying a hippie-dippy couple who run a Bethlehem inn without vacancies.

Starring Isabela Schoenke and Ben Hobson as Mary and Joseph and W. Earl Brown, who played Dan Dority on HBO’s “Deadwood,” as Herod, other cast and crew included Carrie Brown, Trenton Rogers, Kelli Cole, Joshua Estrada, Rob Warner, Mike and Becky Hinchliffe, Amie Claire, Jeff and Sarah Barnett, Glenn Boggs, Anna and Earl Brown, Sam, Jane and John Chew, Jay and Megan Gerig, Bob Griffin, Madison and Sierra Herbold, Katie and Charlotte Hobson, Mai Jara, Robby, Bill, Jacob and Mattie Motz, Elliott, Teresa, Marissa and Rebekah Maynes, Danielle O’Brien, Jim Richardson, Faith Ricotta, Liliana Schoenke and Emily Yount.

Other members of the 100-plus cast and crew who made the event a success included Les and Kathy Thompson, Emily Barnett, Cooper Baldwin, Tim Rogus, Steve Sabo, Presley Armistad, Bridget and Fiona Crenshaw, Lydia Grote, Angela Ibarra, Genevieve and Henry Kloch, Netty and Pearl McArdle, Ana Rees-Thomas, Sarina Ramos, Jenny Roberts, Lily Rogers, Jane Smitheman, Victoria Littlejohn, Caitlin Charles, Claire Hanson, Shelby Bowne, Jessica Norwood, Adrian Baird, David and Mindy Brandt, Tammi DeMasters, Rebecca Johnson, Mike Maldonado, Donna Martley, Anthony Rees-Thomas, Lory Ventura, Steve and Josh Roberts and Brenda Hanson.