It was opening night of The Best Christmas Present Ever at Brantford Christian School. The night was three and a half months in the making. The cast and choir spent countless recesses and a couple of evenings reciting their lines and singing their songs. Students spent many music classes preparing for the play. The music and drama directors spent endless hours working with the cast. A parent painted a giant mural on the stage wall. Another parent printed the posters and program, shaped just like a green Christmas present with a red bow. Everyone worked their hardest.
Inside the gym, Rob, Thomas and I took our seats next to our neighbours, David, Shannon and baby Dawn. The students arrived through the gym door, class by class, biggest to smallest, all in their black pants and red shirts, adorned with red or green garlands. Then the cast entered stage right and took their places. All the while we the audience sang "Joy to the World". Then the play commenced with the students belting out "R.S.V.P." in clear, crisp voices, smiles on their faces. It was immediately followed by "Good News, Great Joy", probably the catchiest number of the play, in which Jacqueline had a short solo. She reached up on her tippy toes to the microphone so she could be heard, not missing a beat.
The story starts to unfold as we learn about a group of church children who have a week to invite their community to a birthday party for Jesus. Each day, the group report to each other on their progress. Some are receptive to the party but others reject the idea, including the local T.V. news broadcaster, played by Caleb who does a convincing job. The church children have only a few days to convince the skeptics that Jesus's birth is well worth celebrating. In the end, they get a good turnout for the Christmas party and convince the news broadcaster that Jesus is the way.
The play ends with a cute manger scene complete with an angel, a shepherd and Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. Five narrators tell the story of Jesus' birth, including Jacqueline. This time she holds the mike in her hand and delivers her lines flawlessly. Then the cast and choir sings "Happy Birthday, Jesus". We're even treated to an encore of "Good News, Great Joy". The play closed and the full house clapped heartily as the cast took a bow. We sang "Silent Night" and bowed our heads for a closing prayer.
We visited with our neighbours and my in-laws, who were sitting ahead of us, and then headed outside. The night was so clear we could see the stars. We headed home with our tired little actress/singer, our hearts full and satisfied. It was the best Christmas present ever!