For participants, visitors and residents of Sanpete County, The Mormon Miracle Pageant held annually in Manti, has played an important role in their lives. Participants, whether as part of the cast or crew have been part of an exciting and unique production.
This year’s production, June 13-15 and 18-22, will be the 53rd annual presentation of the Mormon Miracle Pageant. It will also be the last year for the pageant. Over the past 52 years the pageant has made a significant change to the thoughts, feelings and possibly the futures of thousands of people.
“Being in the pageant was the highlight of every summer,” said one former cast member. “I always missed it when it was over.”
Even though pageant participation has meant many long hours of practice and preparation for cast and crew, it was a wondrous and memorable time. It gave them a chance to have fun and socialize with a group of kids they would not have met otherwise.
Participation in the pageant has brought satisfaction and friendships that could be found in other summer activities, but the pageant has also brought another dimension of meaning.
A former pageant president mentioned the participants come away with more understanding of the great heritage of the west, pioneers, settlers, their sacrifices and challenges.
The pageant has also provided unique opportunities to play the part of someone cast members may have read about in a book. One cast member asked, “How often can people read a book and get to play a person they are reading about?”
He said it made the Church history stories of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon and American history come alive.
Many visitors have also found themselves enjoying the atmosphere of excitement and inspiration when the pageant has been included in summer activities.
Considering that there is not as much instant entertainment in rural areas, families and groups that visit the pageant have had to count on each other to make their own fun.
Participants have discovered things about each other they wouldn’t otherwise, because they have to rely on each other, making it more meaningful that way.
The pageant has also given visitors an opportunity to spend time rubbing shoulders with others. One person said, “Not a year has gone by that I haven’t seen someone in the crowds at pageant that I’ve not seen in years.”
The pageant has provided a perfect atmosphere for people to come together and renew acquaintances. Visitors who have come found that they get more out of the pageant experience than just a social interaction. The inspiring message of the play, combined with the unique setting, has reinforced the spirit.
“To get out into the country and the mountains in the cool evenings and to be in the influence of the beautiful temple as a group, couple, single or as a family is a treasure.”
When people have thought about each coming summer, many automatically thought of the treasure that awaited them as they spent at least part of their time at the Mormon Miracle Pageant. Some made it an annual part of their year.
It takes approximately 400 people to set up and later take down about 14,000 metal folding chairs. Another several hundred people, the directing crew, wardrobe and make-up artists, ushers and security personnel, stage and production crew, as well as those who serve dinner to the cast and volunteer in various ways.
Sanpete County Search and Rescue and Manti-Ephraim Emergency Medical Technicians have also been on hand to assist when needed. Lastly, dozens of Primary children and adult leaders from local wards of the Church have walked the temple grounds the morning after performances to clean up trash.
“I doubt there are this many volunteers for an ongoing project anywhere else,” said Merilyn Jorgensen, a longtime Manti resident and official pageant historian.
Each night prior to performance, devotionals have been held for cast members, and have frequently been presided over by a visiting general authority.