Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Nauvoo Pageant

    This summer is my last at home so we wanted to do something as a family to bring us closer together. We applied for the Nauvoo Pageant in early fall of 2011 and were accepted as Gold Cast. The Nauvoo Pageant depicts the early history of  the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and their chapter in Nauvoo Illinois. Being a cast member is a week long commitment, in 90 degree weather, in the thick of Mississippi mosquitoes ... but the experience was so spiritually uplifting and emotionally fulfilling that the whole family wants to reapply. 
    The Friday before we left our Bishop gave us each a blessing and set us all apart as pageant cast members. Our first day in Nauvoo was a busy one. We registered, met the director & pageant president, learned the county fair dance steps, got fitted for costumes, learned how to preform and sing the finale, met our district leaders & fellow district members, and preformed int the dress rehearsal.However, we soon realized that every day was just as busy.
Now That's a Prairie Wardrobe!
    Women got to wear dresses, petticoats, & bloomers while men got pants, shirts, suspenders, & vests. If a woman's hair was too short to style they received caps or bonnets, and if your family were farmers then the boys got hats. Our family were Merchants and our assigned color was purple.

The Gold Cast heading to the stage for a group photo.

    There are about two hundred and fifty performers together: Two family casts (one hundred participants each) and a core cast (about thirty men and women who auditioned for the main roles) and a handful of preforming missionaries (young men and women who shared the gospel through song and dance). There are chairs enough to accommodate an audience of two thousand!
    We didn't only have to wear the 1880's clothes, but also the hairstyles. One of the costume directors declared, "Hairspray is the glue that holds this pageant together!"

Rocking the 1800's hairstyles!
Elayne S. Dalton ... General Young Women President

    Every night we had a district meeting and cast & crew meeting. Districts were made up of two families and a core cast member who led the gospel discussions. Our district leader was Melanie Cartwright who played Anna Fordham in the pageant. The cast & crew meeting included all pageant members (core cast, preforming missionaries, bagpipe band, stage crew, and the two family casts). We would sing hymns, recite the standard of truth, and listen to a few short talks. Once night we were honored to hear from Elayne S. Dalton.
Rag Dall Station
    Every night Before there was a county fair with lots of fun family oriented activities for the audience to come and do before the pageant. There were handcart rides, stilts, branding, log sawing, stick balls, puppet making and more. Our family was in charge of the rag doll station. My brothers didn't think so much of the idea, but soon they came up with rag action figures and rag cowboys and rag super heroes. We almost had more little boys visit our station than little girls. 

Within our cast strangers soon became friends and friends soon became family.
Gospel Sisters
    We had a taste of Zion in Nauvoo. Within the first few hours our cast became a family. Mothers would see their little ones on a young man's shoulders or young woman's lap and not even bat an eye. We held umbrellas over each other in the rain, fanned each other in the heat, found band aides for each others scrapes even though we really didn't know each other. All the uncomfortable costumes, all the sweat, and all the thousands of mosquito bites just brought us together and made us one in love and purpose. 
Jeff and Aurora Dickamore: The couple that played Joseph and Emma Smith in the pageant
    Every night we would sing the hymn "The Spirit of God" with all energy of heart with the Nauvoo Temple lighting up the background and the huge stage lights lighting up the our faces. The spirit was electrifying! At the conclusion of the pageant we would mingle with the audience and find out what they thought and how the felt. If they weren't a member of our church we asked them if they would like to learn more. If they were a member of the church we asked them to think of someone who they could share the gospel with.

Family photo in front of the Nauvoo Temple
    I couldn't have asked for a better family vacation. Sure my head was plastered in hairspray or drenched in sweat all the time, sure I was swallowing mayflies as I sang on the stage, sure I didn't get but six hours of sleep each night, sure I will always have mosquito bite scars on my calves, BUT, I will always remember Nauvoo as a time of joy, love, and peace. My testimony was strengthened and my life redirected. The gospel is true!

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