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Drama fills house nightly

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CLARKSTON, Utah — Each year, more than 30,000 reservations are made in less than two weeks by people wanting to attend the Martin Harris Pageant.

To date, more than 600,000 have seen the pageant, titled, "The Man Who Knew," since its inception in 1983. It traces the life of Brother Harris, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, whose grave is in Clarkston Cemetery just a short distance from the amphitheater where the musical drama is played out each year.

The final production in the Church's summer pageant season, the drama was staged this year Aug. 11-26, excluding Sundays and Mondays. This year, 7,000 tickets were distributed to stake missionaries and members bringing guests who are not members of the Church.

As has been the case in past years, the production played to a full house each night.

"It is a wonderful missionary effort," commented pageant president Denzel Clark. "We work carefully with the full-time missions, stakes and members. We only wish we had more space for the tens of thousands who are turned away each year."

The popularity of the pageant fulfills a promise of President Ezra Taft Benson, who dedicated the Martin Harris Memorial Amphitheater on Aug. 6, 1983, and promised, "In this place, tens of thousands will be strengthened and taught the gospel in the spirit of wisdom through the doctrines and principles of the gospel by testimony of Joseph Smith and Martin Harris."

Duane Huff, pageant director and second counselor in the pageant presidency reported: "I am thrilled with the testimonies that are built among the cast of over 100, and of the 400 members who provide costumes, set construction, makeup, hair preparation, parking, security, lights, sound, ushering and countless other services."

Rhett James, pageant playwright and first counselor in the pageant presidency, noted that over the years the pageant has resulted in thousands of missionary referrals and the reactivation of many Church members. "Rescuing each individual to greater activity in the Church is in the spirit of Martin Harris' life," he remarked.

Brother James, a Church Educational System instructor, gives a lecture on Martin Harris before each performance. The audience responds warmly to the question-answer period. All are encouraged to read the Book of Mormon, and non-LDS guests are encouraged to invite the missionaries into their homes to receive further instruction.

"The law of witnesses is a central activity of each evening," he said. "It is felt from every activity during each performance each evening. Martin Harris' patriarchal blessing given to him by Joseph Smith Sr. promised Brother Harris, "Thy mind shall be enlarged, and thy testimony shall yet convince its thousands and its tens of thousands; yea, it shall shine like the sun, and though the wicked seek to overthrow it, it shall be in vain, for the Lord God shall bear it off victorious," he said.