News Release

It’s a Wrap! Inspiring British Pageant Continues to Wow Audiences after 13 Performances

Elder Carl B. Cook, Elder Hans T. Boom visit with pageant performers

After a six-year break, the British Pageant of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints returned to the grounds of the Preston England Temple in Chorley (2-12 August). Twelve thousand people saw the Pageant in a purpose-built theatre over 13 performances – including faith leaders, media representatives, and neighbours from the surrounding area, with an additional global audience of nearly 50,000 viewing online.

Elder Carl B. Cook, of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Hans T. Boom, Europe North Area President, accompanied by their wives, Sister Lynette Cook and Sister Marjan Boom, joined the closing performances on 12 August and mingled with Pageant performers.

Elder Boom reflected, “Arriving at the temple grounds, which has become a familiar place in the last year, we already could experience the high level of this event. The new structures set up and people going about their duties everywhere was raising our level of excitement. The actual event was so much more than we expected. There just are no words, at least in my limited English vocabulary, to describe what we felt.”

“With tears running down our cheeks we experienced something that has lifted us and strengthened our testimonies,” he added. “How grateful we are for this part of our church history and to be serving here in the British Isles where the fire of the covenant is still burning.”

The Pageant, one of only three globally produced by the Church, reenacts the story of Heber C. Kimball and the first missionaries in the United Kingdom, as well as early converts to the Church.

Scheduled to return in 2021, the Pageant was postponed twice due to COVID-19 and global issues. The Pageant returned in August this year with great excitement. The performers and those behind the scenes have been preparing for more than two years to meet the high standards needed.

“This Pageant details in song and dance how we are all brothers and sisters, no matter which country we come from,” said Alex Mackenzie Johns, Director of the production. “No matter our religious beliefs, we can be one through loving one another.”

The performance was live-streamed worldwide on Friday 11 August, a first for the British Pageant, reaching tens of thousands from nearly every continent. DeAnn Sadleir, from Utah in the US, viewed the performance and described its personal impact. “As I soaked in the colours and costumes of this heartening Pageant, it struck a familiar chord. It is my story; it is the story all the human race shares,” she said, “I’m so grateful to be reminded of the unique gifts these British faith pioneers, these Saints, so faithfully practised. I’m most appreciative to the participants of this Pageant in sharing their talents and the sacrifices made to bring it to light. Truly inspiring!”

The online comments during the live stream, and subsequent views, were vast and varied. So many responded with feelings of gratitude with what was being experienced. Simon Fagg, British Pageant Communications Director, commented “the spirit of the Pageant is being felt across the country and the world.”

Pageant attendees visited the Country Fair to join in with period games and activities as would have been enjoyed in the 1800’s. They could also visit a special marquee set up to trace their family history. With a quick click on a QR Code, visitors discovered if they were related to Pageant performers or attendees there at the evening performance.

Elder Steven Alder in the FamilySearch marquee commented that he met people – of diverse faith backgrounds – who discovered ancestry directly tied to early British people who had joined the Church in the 1800’s.

The hard work of the over 600 volunteers and performers paid off as crowds, young and old, were captivated at each performance. Mart Smith, a local resident, came one night and felt his mother would enjoy it so he returned for a following performance. “We had a great time; my mum really enjoyed the show for all its meaning within our family history,” he related. “I really enjoyed it a second time to focus on the main cast and watch the ensemble; some fantastic unseen performances there! Big kudos to the entire cast on stage and the backstage crew in putting on the show. There are some wonderfully talented individuals who, coming together, made everything shine to a West End level!”

Marvin Watt, with his family, travelled from the US to experience the Pageant for himself. He is a direct descendant of George Watt, the first person in the United Kingdom to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whose story was depicted as part of the Pageant. “This has been very moving,” Marvin said after the performance. “I have visited most of the historical sites of the Church in the US but coming here, where my family’s religious roots began, has been wonderful. We visited the River Ribble where the first baptism took place and now to see it acted out on stage has been amazing.”

Richard Marson from Huddersfield, who has been learning about the Church since May, came to experience the Pageant but did not know beforehand what to expect. “I had no idea how powerful and how overwhelming the feeling would be at the end of the show; to get such a strong sense of connection, a vital connection, between England, Scotland and America,” Marson said. A 35-year career with the BBC has given him exposure to many quality performances throughout the country. “No one could get anything wrong. I’ve seen professional shows where a lot of things went wrong but this was impressive.”

As the Pageant comes to a thrilling close, the hope is that the message and spirit it conveyed will linger in the hearts and lives of all who attended, performed, and organized this grand undertaking. Many are looking forward to the Pageant’s return in another four years.

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