Director’s Corner: Robert Ford

Director’s Corner

Robert Ford brings his directorial talents to WCT for the first time with “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”. He has previously appeared on the WCT stage as an actor playing Fred Dickens in the 2016 holiday hit, “A Christmas Carol”. He has also organized and directed the children’s theatre club at Baechtel Grove Middle School.

 

In talking about his experience directing the show, Ford comments right away that he has an especially large cast, and one that includes 17 child actors. He’s particularly excited to have so many talented kids in the cast, including veteran child actors and some who are experiencing live acting on stage for the first time.

 

He says, “It’s really amazing to have such a great group of kids. We even have a new family who just moved into the area and the mother and her kids joined the cast and they’re really talented. I’m so happy to have so many joining us from our community.”

 

So what’s it like for Ford to direct and handle such a large cast? Does he particularly like working with the kids?

 

Ford says, “I enjoy the entire cast. We do have a few veteran actors with previous experience in shows at the theatre, including Earlene Gleisner and Marlene Brown.”

 

He also points out that the theatre is building a legacy, with the involvement of the young people and their new talent. He welcomes how the show helps represent the entire community, and not just one part of it. He says, “It’s important to have our local churches involved in the theatre, and our local businesses. After all it is a theater for the entire community, and not only for its regular patrons, but also for all our local families. So having the kids in the show is a huge plus.”

 

What about the show itself? What has excited him the most?

 

Ford says, “It is about a church Christmas pageant usually run by one woman, but she has a broken leg and so a local mother is elected to run the pageant. When she’s picking out kids from Sunday School, she ends up with one family volunteering, the Herdmans, who are a raucous bunch from the wrong side of the tracks.”

 

As the rehearsals start turning to chaos, Ford says there’s unfortunate community gossip and judgment directed at the Herdmans and the pageant’s fates appears quite unseemly. People are asking, how could the pageant organizer allow these horrible kids to be in the show?

 

The rehearsals are chaotic and hilarious. However, by the end, in this show-within-a-show, something else takes place that reveals how a community comes together and works out its differences.

 

Ford says, “I particularly like that the show deals with issues in our wider society. It deals with those issues in a way that is light-hearted. It uses humor to work through what we face, both in and out of church and in our community.”

 

Besides being a humorous look at the foibles of community relationships, what else about the play intrigues Ford?

 

He says, “When I first read the script, I thought this is cute. I found myself laughing through the script, and then by the end, I found myself actually tearing up. I was moved by how people can transform and change. We can see from this play that we can’t just rely on our judgments and expectations of what people are like, based on what they look like on the outside.”

 

Ford says, “The show demonstrates that everybody deserves a chance, no matter where they come from.”

 

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