News Release

British Pageant Audiences are 'Energetic and Incredible'

For more than a week now, audiences of Mormons and non-Mormons alike have been flocking to the Preston Temple site in Chorley Lancs., to see the British Pageant, a theatrical tribute to the beginnings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles. Each performance, held under a truly astounding marquee built especially for the event, houses 1,500 guests.

Over 1000 volunteers busily entertain and serve these spectators: from amateur actors, dancers and singers, to lighting technicians and first-aid attendants. Each participant has been overwhelmed by the jovial reception of their guests, who enjoy a myriad of pre-show activities on the Temple site and attend the performance.

Assistant Director of the Pageant, Jonathan Mace, enjoyed interacting with audience members at the pre-show activities, where he energetically coordinated traditional dancing with both cast members and visitors. Guests got a taste of nineteenth century country dancing that once joined community members in spirit and fun. Tonight, it seemed, the same effect was had.

After the second performance night on Thursday 1 August, Mace said, “Our audience tonight was just incredible. They came with a great energy, applauded after many of the scenes and laughed heartily at the lighter moments. It was great to have that feedback and reaction from them.”

Amongst the audience last week was local business owner Emma Seddon and her young son William. Seddon owns the Temperence Bar, a non-alcoholic drink cafe at Botany Bay, an old-timey shopping market that faces the Preston Temple site across the motorway.

Seddon visited the Temple open house in 1998 and has since admired the impressive building in the heart of the community. She William often play a game, ‘spot the angel’ as they drive around the local community, catching glimpses of the 9 ft gold statute of the Angel Moroni (a prophet depicted in The Book of Mormon), sitting on top of the temple. A local customer in Seddon’s café invited her to attend the Pageant, and she said she took the chance to return to the beautiful temple site.

Ben Balla and his wife Sally, both Mormons from Bradford, Yorks., attended the Pageant on its opening night, Wednesday 31 July.  Balla said that the eagerness of the cast members was something he equated with the eagerness of the early missionaries portrayed in the Pageant, who were excited to share their own story of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Balla, like many other British audience members, expressed an appreciation for the Pageant’s “intimate portrayal of everyday, salt-of-the-earth British families of the 1830s adapting their simple lives to embrace a new religion.” Today, the salt-of-the-earth British families have volunteered their time to participate in roles such as the choir, which Balla said were “not in the least undeserving of being mentioned in the same breath as the celebrated Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They really were that good!”

“This was a night where some serious hard work and effort from Church members the country over paid off; and a wealth of talent, particularly from a selection of the actors, made for an entertaining and spiritual evening enjoyed by Mormons and non-Mormons alike.”

Diane Oliver, a Mormon from Chorley, Lancs., likewise attended the Pageant on its opening night. She said the in the Pageant reminded her of her own feelings when she decided to be baptised in 1971. “I couldn't deny the truth I felt that the Church had indeed been restored to the earth through Joseph Smith.”

“The gratitude I feel in my heart to all those who played a part in the first British Pageant is immense. They have given me the courage and faith to continue my journey because ‘Truth with Prevail.’

The consensus of audience members, whether or not of the Mormon faith, is an appreciation of the show’s deep-rooted emphasis on the British heritage of the Church and its members. From widely known British heroes in history, like Thomas More and William Tyndale, to a simple cockney couple depicted in the Pageant. Mr. and Mrs. Twizzleton Turley, a crowd favourite, delight in nurturing British vegetable seeds in the Americas, which they view as their profound calling from God. They resolve to plant their seeds in America so that there’s “a little bit’o England in everyone.”

“I am so grateful to my foundations in this British Church,” Linda Graham, from Blackpool, said. “I am incredibly proud of being British- of being Welsh, English, Irish, Scottish; and being able to be part of that cornerstone that made this Church the most glorious gift that anyone could give anyone else.”

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