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These Mean Little Brats Make ‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

Are you ready for the Herdman kids?

These six little … darlings … are possibly the meanest and nastiest kids in town. Which is why they are so much fun to watch as they cut a swath through Bob and Grace Bradley’s church Christmas pageant.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” which opens tonight at the Spokane Civic Theatre, is a certified Christmas classic, and it has been ever since 1972, when Barbara Robinson first published the children’s book upon which it is based.

Kids loved the hilarious chaos created by those Herdman brats, and adults could identify, poignantly, with the plight of Mr. and Mrs. Bradley. Anybody who has ever had to organize a children’s pageant, or musical presentation, or even a school talent show, could relate.

The book continued to have a big following all the way up until 1982, when the Seattle Children’s Theatre commissioned Robinson to write a play based on the book. The show premiered in Seattle on Nov. 26, 1982, and it was a hit.

Meanwhile, network TV got hold of the story in 1983. Dennis Weaver (yes, we’re talking Chester here) played the dad. Unfortunately, this version was somewhat of a dud. But this did not prevent the stage version from gaining momentum, and it has had many, many productions since that Seattle premiere.

The show has an enormous cast, 37 to be precise, most of whom are kids. Mrs. Bradley is played by Liz Manion, and Mr. Bradley is played by Rick Douglas, best known as a KHQ-6 news anchor.

The rest of the cast includes: Ruth Enos, Wysteria Johnston, Abby Hughes, Juli Pritchard, Ben Downey, Meghan Wittman, Ryan Flanery, Connor Haffey, Matt Downey, Sarah Watkins, Abram Manion, Nikki Egan, Jedi Hankin, Jarrott Moonitz, Ricara Stokes, Alyssa Beth Calder, Doug Downey, Chris Black, Paul Wilson, Kjersti Cubberley, Michelle Elaina Heacox, Remington Stokes, Stan Calder, Christy Calder, Valli D. Downey, Ann Gillum, Cynthia Lear Stokes, Laura Pritchard, Jared Frye, Chassie Guinn, Sojourner Love, Autumn Manion, Tami Santimyer and Lillian Jean Spradley Sowa.

The musical director is Scarlett Hepworth. The show, while not actually a musical, contains some Christmas music.

The show opens tonight and continues Nov. 18, 24-26, Nov. 30, Dec. 1-3, 7-10 and Dec. 14-16. Showtimes are 8 p.m., except Sunday matinees, which are at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults on Fridays and Saturdays, $12 for adults on Thursdays and Sundays; $12 for seniors and $9 for students. For reservations, call 325-2507.

The Spokane Civic Theatre is located at 1020 N. Howard.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo