Preparations are moving forward for central Utah's traditional summertime event, the Mormon Miracle Pageant.
Performances will be Thursday through Saturday, July 7-9, and again Tuesday through Saturday, July 12-16. Performances begin each night at 9:15, and admission is free.The 400-member cast has been rehearsing nightly for several weeks, and the scenery is being repainted and costumes refurbished. Dress rehearsals are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, July 5-6.
Ron Hall returns as general director, assisted by Don Ray Olsen, Helen Dyreng, Todd Jorgensen and Jane Braithwaite. Jackie Humphries is dance director.
This year's pageant will feature some new scenery items and a whole set of new costumes, said Hall. "We try to keep adding to our performances in other ways, too," he said.
But, of course, the script will remain the familiar one - "a story based on the LDS history, the movement west, the tragedy and triumph of a great episode in mankind's quest," Hall said.
Total attendance through the years has passed the 1.5 million mark. The largest combined annual audience - an estimated 150,000 - attended in 1988, the centennial year of the Manti Temple.
The temple and southern grounds serve as backdrop and stage for the pageant. Some 10,000 folding chairs are in place; however, pageant officials suggest that people bring blankets and lawn chairs since weekend performances usually draw an audience of 20,000 or more.
Access to the pageant site should be easier this year due to recent street improvements in Manti. Ample parking room is available.
"We have made every possible provision for the safety, convenience and enjoyment of our visitors," said Lee Barton, pageant general chairman. "We want our guests to have a rich experience."
Guests in the past have come from 20 different states and a number of foreign counties, say pageant officials.
"One of the interesting developments has become the focus of the pageant for family reunions and youth activities," Barton said. "We are accustomed to have large groups arrive for a two- or three-day experience that includes camping, attending the pageant and having dinner and breakfast at one of our facilities.
"We are happy to have this role in Utah's summertime agenda," he added.
Barbecued turkey and roast beef dinners will be available at Manti LDS Church meetinghouses during the late afternoons and early evenings of pageant nights. Breakfasts will be served at the LDS Tabernacle and at Manti Memorial Park the mornings following performances, with the exception of Sunday mornings.