Mormon Miracle Pageant to return in Manti with more than 1,000 cast members
By Mary Piper
As evening approaches in Manti during the month of June, something extraordinary begins to happen. Thousands of people take their seats on 14,000 folding chairs set up in the field at the base of the Manti Temple and wait for the trumpet fanfare to signal the beginning of the Mormon Miracle Pageant. And part of the miracle is that this scene has been repeated for 51 years.
The Mormon Miracle Pageant began as a July 24th celebration in 1967 with about 2,000 spectators sitting in the bleachers at the Sanpete County Fairgrounds. A 25-piece orchestra provided the music, and sagebrush surrounded a wooden stage built in the arena where normally horses chased cattle. Trees had been trimmed to provide a view of the temple hill to the east where actors portraying the mortal and angelic Moroni would stand. The lighting was provided by 100-watt bulbs placed in gallon cans by Doug Barton, who has helped with every pageant except two (those missed as he served a mission for the LDS Church). Storm clouds began delivering rain just as the production was ready to begin, but miraculously the rain stopped during the performance and didn’t begin again until the final notes were played.
From those humble beginnings, the Mormon Miracle Pageant has grown to include more than 1,000 cast members; numerous costume, lighting and scenery crew members; hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sets and costumes; and well over 1 million spectators.
The pageant contains three separate but related stories. The first story revolves around Robert and Mary Henshaw, a young couple searching for the meaning of their lives. The second story tells of Joseph Smith, whose heavenly vision in 1820 was the foundation for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and who translated the Book of Mormon. The third story shows the pioneers who traveled from the East and settled in the Sanpete Valley. Robert and Mary’s lives are connected to each part of the story, and the audience follows their journey.
This year’s pageant theme is “That they might see, feel and know.” There will be special musical performances before the pageant some evenings with performers including Cheri Call, Michael Dowdle, Skyline Drive, Greg Booth and other popular LDS artists. The pageant will be performed June 15 through 24 except Sunday and Monday beginning about 9:30 p.m., and admission is free.
For more information on the Mormon Miracle Pageant, visit out Facebook page Manti Mormon Miracle Pageant, or go to www.mormonmiracle.org.