For over 50 years the Mormon Miracle Pageant has been performed. In that span, millions of people have witnessed the pageant’s story unfold on the hill beneath the Manti Temple. A list of 52 fun pageant facts has been compiled:
1. The pageant debuted in 1967.
2. The pageant was originally a relatively small 24th of July celebration for the South Sanpete Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
3. The first performance was held just west of the temple, at the Sanpete County Fairgrounds.
4. The pageant was moved close to its current location in 1968.
5. The original story was written by the late Grace Johnson in the 1940s.
6. BYU and BYU-Hawaii used Johnson’s story as a readers’ theater in the 1950s.
7. A live choir provided music for the pageant for the first three years, from 1967-1969.
8. A 25-35 piece orchestra also accompanied the pageant those early years.
9. One of the noted musicians, whose violin playing is also heard on the soundtrack, was Richard Nibley, brother of Church scholar Hugh Nibley.
10. Grace Johnson’s story was adapted to true pageant form in 1970 by Macksene Rux.
11. The recorded soundtrack was produced by Bonneville International of Salt Lake City in that same year.
12. Much of the original recording is still in use today.
13. Current Church Apostle M. Russell Ballard’s father, Apostle Melvin R. Ballard, is the recorded voice of the prophet Mormon.
14. Elder Ballard (nephew of Macksene Rux) donated some props to the pageant in 1971.
15. Virtually the total cost of production for the first two decades was by local donation.
16. The first production in 1967 sported only one handcart to represent the entire westward trek of the Mormon pioneers.
17. In 1968, no vehicles for the production were allowed on temple property, so all scenery and equipment was hand carried over the fence.
18. Seating for 1968 was outside the temple grounds. The audience brought lawn chairs to sit on the sidewalk, or bleachers brought from the fairgrounds provided seats on the road.
19. The present seating area of the pageant used to be a hay field, with 20 to 30 large trees along the north edge.
20. It was a process of five years, until 1972, before permission was obtained to remove the last of the trees.
21. From 1967 to 1971, pageant attendance increased from about 1,500 to 83,000.
22. In 1972, pageant attendance jumped to 121,000.
23. For several decades, the American Bus Association named the pageant as one of the top 100 productions in North America.
24. The National Institute of Outdoor Theater lists (as of 2014) the Manti pageant as having the largest nightly attendance of any production in America (including all Shakespeare festivals).
25. Over 4.5 million visitors have watched the pageant in its 50-year history.
26. About 100,000 people now watch the pageant annually.
27. Visitors have been registered from all 50 states and many foreign countries, on every continent.
28. The sound technology was provided from 1969 to 1997 by volunteer technicians from the BYU audiology department.
29. Most of the spotlights used for the first decades of the production were homemade from gallon cans sprayed black, then wired with light globes.
30. Alvin Beal conceived the idea, and his family made most of the ‘can lights.’
31. Douglas Barton worked with the pageant lighting for 46 of the 50 years.
32. There are now six huge light towers, with hundreds of spotlights available to illuminate the huge stage area.
33. Since 1998, the LDS Church’s light and sound technical equipment has been shared by all Church pageants, including Manti; Hill Cumorah , NY; Nauvoo, IL; and others.
34. Operating technicians from Salt Lake City accompany and supervise the imported technical equipment, but the balance of the light crew remains mostly local youth.
35. Many of the first costumes, including all angel costumes, were made from donated bed sheets.
36. Practically all costumes have been made by local seamstresses for all 50 years.
37. Rumors circulated in 1972 that the pageant would move away from Manti, but locals fought to keep it in the Sanpete Valley.
38. Efforts and plans to rewrite or change the pageant have been frequent—an announcement was made that 1991, the 25th year, would be the last year of the Mormon Miracle Pageant.
39. Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of the LDS Church, serving then as the vice-chairman of the pageant committee, refused the plans to cancel.
40. In the early years, chairs for the audience were borrowed from BYU in Provo and Church wards from Spanish Fork to Richfield, and many in between.
41. Now there are about 14,000 pageant-owned chairs set up each season.
42. 400 volunteers from area Church stakes set up and take down the chairs each year.
43. The process of setting up and removing the 14,000 chairs has been streamlined to about 1½ hours.
44. The present scenery design was donated by renowned designer Gary Daynes. Construction was done in Provo.
45. Music for the new Christ in America scene, in 2000, was composed and conducted by prominent musician Merrill Jenson especially for the pageant.
46. Between 1,500 and 2,000 volunteers, in addition to cast, work for the pageant.
47. 2016 had a record number of cast members—1,100. About 80 percent of the cast is under 18 years of age.
48. One original dance director served 24 years.
49. Morgan Dyreng served as Chairman/President from 1967 to 1990. Subsequently, there have been eight pageant presidents to supervise the production.
50. There were only six directors during the first 50 years.
51. Macksene Rux directed from 1970 to 1989.
52. It was announced in December 2018 that the Manti Pageant, also known as the Mormon Miracle Pageant (MMP) would have its last performances in 2019.