‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ set for CCP

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This normally would not be the type of play that longtime Carmel Community Players board member Lori Raffel would choose to direct.

“I usually pick edgier shows, but no one would submit a Christmas show,” said Raffel, a Carmel High School graduate who lives in Indianapolis. “I don’t have any family left. I don’t go anywhere (at Christmas). I thought, ‘I’ll just bite the bullet and I’ll do the Christmas show.’”

Raffel struggled finding a Christmas show she wanted to do until someone suggested she read the script.

“I thought it has a great lesson to it and it’s not preachy and it’s not cheesy,” Raffel said. “It’s really funny and I think kids and adults will like it.”

CCP’s production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will run Nov. 29 to Dec. 9 at Studio 37 in Ji-Eun Lee Music Academy, 10029 E. 126th St., Fishers.

“The stage is bigger and there is a curtain, and for this show, the curtain is very important,” Raffel said.

Raffel said she cast several members of Ji-Eun Lee Music Academy dance students.

“It was hard to find boys (to cast),” Raffel said. “So, the Herdman family is supposed to be girls and boys but now it’s just one boy and the rest are girls.”

The cast includes 12 children and five adults. The story revolves around a Christmas pageant at the church. There is a new director but the woman normally in charge breaks her leg.

“They talk this poor mother into doing it,” Raffel said. “The Herdmans, kind of a welfare family with the parents not around, come because they hear at church you get refreshments for free. They show up and end up getting all the big parts.”

Raffel said everyone tells the woman directing it’s going to be a disaster and the Herdsman are bullies.

“In the end, it’s the best Christmas pageant ever because everyone learns they are pretty cool kids after all,” Raffel said.

Raffel said she put some singing in the show because the cast are such good singers.

Fishers resident Joe Meyers plays the Pastor. His wife, Lee, plays one of the church members.

“We met in 1980 playing husband and wife in a play called ‘My Daughter, Your Son,’ in Terre Haute,” Joe Meyers said. “We enjoyed it, so we made it permanent.”

Joe Meyers has been acting since 1956.

“I started in 1950 when I was a mere lass,” Lee Meyers said.

Westfield Middle School seventh-grader Maya Davis is performing for the first time with CCP. She has previously performed with Westfield Playhouse. Davis plays Imogene Herdsman.

“I like that she is mean and sassy,” Davis said. “I like the change she goes through and she has some killer lines, as my mom puts it. She shows her soft side as the show goes on.”

Carmel residents Steven Marsh and his wife Nikki Vrtis, along with their son, Sam Vrtismarsh, are in the production.

Marsh plays Bob Bradley and Vrtismarsh plays his son, Charlie. Vrtis plays one of the church women.

“I’m on stage a lot and don’t say anything. The times that I do talk I have some pretty funny lines,” said Vrtismarsh, a Carmel Middle School sixth-grader.

Vrtismarsh played one of the Herdsman children in the same play in 2014 at Westfield Playhouse.

“He was one of the bratty Herdsman kids. Now, he’s playing the good kid,” Marsh said. “This is the second time we played father and son on stage. We played in “The Nerd” for Westfield Playhouse.”

Vrtis is making her acting debut, although she did play the Wicked Witch in a “Hansel and Gretel” play in kindergarten.

“(Vrtis) started reading for people and I just kind of hooked her in,” Raffel said.

Vrtis said she has been helped with her reading lines or getting props in her son’s previous plays.

“It’s not a huge role, so there are not too many lines to learn,” Vrtis said. “It’s just getting on stage at the right time. I’m hoping I can remember (the lines) once I have an audience.”

For more, visit carmelplayers.org.


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