Each year hundreds of youth members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participate in the Mormon Miracle Pageant (MMP). In the pageant cast, members have the opportunity to share their testimonies by reenacting stories surrounding the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People come from around the world to see the pageant held each year on Temple Hill.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes peak at what it’s like to be a cast member in the Mormon Miracle Pageant.
Being a cast member
A month before each Mormon Miracle Pageant began, cast members practice two or three times per week for about two hours. As the pageant performance dates draw closer, cast members practice Monday through Saturday from 8 p.m., until about midnight.
Despite some very cold nights, children of all ages gathered to rehearse their parts.
Besides the cool weather, some challenging aspects of practicing included practicing on the temple’s steep and often slippery hill. Another challenging aspect for cast members can be switching costumes in between scenes. For example some cast members are dressed as Native Americans in one scene and pioneers in the very next scene.
Every cast member in the Mormon Miracle Pageant has a costume to wear, many of which are homemade. On top of their costume, cast members wear an identification badge. Generally cast members cannot take their costumes home; rather, they wear their costumes for the duration of the practices and then return the costumes to be cleaned.
According to cast members, some of the most interesting costumes include the costumes for Queen Lamoni, Lamanite dancers, warriors and the sacrifice.
Several weeks before each Mormon Miracle Pageant begins, pageant staff started setting-up. This includes placing artificial rocks and trees on temple hill. Several large light and speaker towers are put in place. As the pageant draws closer local Church priesthood leaders enlisted local volunteers to set up thousands of chairs.
In between each scene, cast members move around props, such as handcarts, a volcano and an ancient temple.
Before each performance of the pageant, many of the cast members have gone out in full costume to mingle with the audience. Prior to doing so, the cast members have a special cast missionary meeting. They go in pairs of two following the pattern of full-time missionaries for the Church, welcoming the audience, bearing testimony of the gospel and asking people for missionary referrals.
Before each performance, there is a special cast devotional. Sometimes general authorities have come to speak. It’s a great way to keep the whole cast in a spiritual mindset, strengthen testimonies and remind them of the purpose of the pageant. The devotionals help cast members understand their role in helping the audience feel the spirit of the message of the restoration.
“For years I have been waiting for someone to do justice in recording in song, story, painting and sculpture the story of the restoration. Our writers, our motion picture specialists, with the inspiration of heaven, should tomorrow be able to produce a masterpiece which would live forever.” — Spencer W. Kimball
One of the Boekweg twins said, “I enjoyed participating as a cast member in the pageant for several years. It strengthened my testimony of Jesus Christ and the church He restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. If you’ve never had a chance to see the pageant, I’d highly recommend it.”