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An updated and merry Christmas pageant

December 20, 2011|By David Laurell
  • Hippie innkeepers, played by Paul and Carol Clairville, offer Mary and Joseph, portrayed by Isabela Schoenke and Ben Hobson, the use of their manger.
Hippie innkeepers, played by Paul and Carol Clairville,…

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.

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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.

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