Holiday shows at Jubilee, NAT

Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever shows what occurs when the wrong kids arrive at the local church, where rehearsals are underway for the annual Christmas pageant.

The success of Pec Playhouse lies in its involvement with the people of Pecatonica and the surrounding area. With a cast of 37, most of them below the age of 14, thundering across the stage, the show is the perfect vehicle to guarantee sold-out houses.

In my classroom, The Best… was read out loud every year, so the dialogue is ingrained in my memory, and the Herdmans are among my favorite literary characters.

Terrorizing the entire town, Ralph (Zach Downs), Leroy (Stephen Ramberg), Claude (Jake Mullen), Ollie (Grant Coborn), and Gladys (Kylee Smull) under the leadership of Imogene (Arnanda Mielke) take the main roles in Beth Bradley’s production. Keva Walker plays the well-meaning parishioner unable to answer Imogene’s pointed questions concerning the birth of our Lord. The lack of a baby to play the Christ Child seems solved when Imogene suggests she pick one out of a carriage in front of the local market.

Imogene’s penchant for cigars results in the firemen being called and the ruination of cakes baking in the church kitchen.

Kylee Smull, a terrific Angel of the Lord, steals the show. Her characterization as superhero puts a human face on a traditional story.

In spite of dire predictions, the true spirit of Christmas comes when Imogene and her crew portray the Holy Family as poor wanderers lodged in a barn. Arriving with gifts, the Magi present a ham from the Herdmans’ welfare basket. The last moments of the book always brought a few tears, and Pec Playhouse’s presentation achieved the same effect.


From the serious to the lighthearted, HolliDazzle!, Don Zellmer’s current Jubilee show, is all Las Vegas. Draped in sequins and feathers, dancers Casiena Raether, Catherine Bozzi, and Kimberly Lynn Bigler become the reincarnation of the Rockettes. Raether again choreographs effectively. Zellmer’s costumes come from Williams Costumes of Las Vegas, and there seems to be an inexhaustible supply.

Jacob Bailey appeared in Hot Country Nights. A relative newcomer, his growth as a professional continues. A stage presence enhanced by a fine voice makes him an asset to the company.

Stepping from the wings, Katy Morehouse, stage manager, production assistant, and costumer, displays a true talent for comedy. Her request for only two gifts from Santa is a bit naughty, but as Bailey sings “A Partridge In a Pear Tree,” her replies as receiver of multiple gifts bring down the house. A student at Rock Valley, her theater experience stems from work at Boylan High School and shows at RVC… a charming young lady on her way to a promising career.


Our return for the last performance of Quilters gave us an evening of unsurpassed enjoyment… For Jim Radloff, it is a labor of love. Family heirlooms grace the stage, and his memories of their origins bring tears. Radloff thanked the many who contributed: The Capron Lutheran Church Quilters, Midway Village and Museum Center for their care of the “Legacy Quilt,” RSVP and Jan Bacino for their sewing assistance, and to all who made the show a success.

Friends gathered after the final curtain to share their appreciation with the cast, Sandra Bohn, Janice Braswell, Angie Fellows, Barb McCaskey, Valerie Hoglund, Mary Ellen Skwark, and Betsie Swartz. Radloff hopes that Quilters can be remounted, possibly at a community theater festival. We hope his dreams are realized.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!