Directors Penny Leto and Lauren Thompson with Audrey Edwards in ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,’ presented by Fringe and Bravo. FRINGE THEATER/Contributed

Bravo Theatre for children, in partnership with the Fringe Theater, presents Barbara Robinson’s book and play, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” Dec. 12-16 at the Key West Armory, 600 White St. Show time is 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 16. 

The show touches on topics of judgment and redemption with a type of David Sedaris-meets-Garrison Keillor perspective. 

“This is a holiday show that will appeal to all ages,” said Rebecca Tomlinson, managing artistic director of Fringe. “It’s not a children’s show as much as it is a show with children in it. We’ve always been impressed with the productions Bravo Theatre creates in its summer youth camp, so we are very enthusiastic to help them with this special holiday show.”  

Barbara Robinson wrote “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” in the late 1970s. The book was so popular she adapted it into a play and a film. It has now become a holiday classic around the world. The play tells its story from both the adult and child’s perspective to show, as articulated by the show’s adult star, Amber Goode, that “life imitates art, imitates life, imitates art.”

The story pits six rag-tag children, the Herdmans, against a Christmas pageant steeped in traditionalism and, dare we say, “safe” artistic practices. The story is narrated by the eldest Bradley child, Beth (Jamie Everitt) with help from her frazzled and steadfast mother (Amber McDonald Goode), dry-witted but caring father (John Goode), and archetypal younger brother (Jackson Koppal). Together, they provide the narrative voice for this holiday classic gone awry.

The Herdman children Ralph (Dominic Davila), Leroy (Jack Hawks), Claude (Logan Goode), Ollie (Cody Hawks), and Gladys (Audrey Edwards) bumble and stumble through their rehearsals, confronting their understanding of the biblical story of Christmas, working against the doubting community of children – specifically Alice (Samara McDonald) and her side-kick Maxine (Charlie Lopez). Eventually, the true meaning of the season is found through their unique interpretation of the Christmas story as articulated by Miss Imogene Herdman (Grace Riley).

There’s a chorus of church ladies stirring up trouble. They include the former leader of the Christmas pageant, Mrs. Armstrong (Marjorie Paul-Shook) and the other members of the Ladies Aid Society — Mrs. McCarthy (Mimi McDonald), Mrs. Slocum (Joannie Sullivan) and Mrs. Clausing (Nancy3 Hoffman). Rounding out the story is the irreverent Reverend (Chas. Hickey) and 31 of the community’s finest young talents.

Bringing this play to life are the directors of Bravo Theatre, Penny Leto and Lauren Thompson with musical direction by Nancy3 Hoffman. Fringe’s lighting and scenic design team Kendall Cameron and Armis Ikatu are joined by sound designer Ben Pegg and costume designer Gary “Sushi” Marion. The crew includes Ray West and Fritzie Estimond.