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Miracle On Bethlehem Street

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  • Overture
  • Bethlehem Is Busy
  • Dollars And Census
  • Make A Place
  • Everybody Wants To Stay
  • Flock Watchers
  • Chasing A Star
  • Miracle On Bethlehem Street
  • Receive The King
  • Director's Resources
  • Poster
  • Bulletin Cover

CAST:

  • BENJAMIN: The Innkeeper. A little self important, but lovable and comic. Full of big plans.
  • RACHEL: The Innkeeper's wife. Warm and down to earth, with a sense of humor. Tolerant of her husband.
  • SERVANT: Young man or woman responsible for cleaning out the stable.
  • HERALDS, STAFF MEMBERS, GUESTS, CLERKS

These parts can be assigned as numbered, or can be split up to accommodate larger groups:

  • SHEPHERDS: Earthy, energetic, fun loving, and perhaps a little low class. These lines can also be split for larger groups.
  • KINGS: The traditional three; rich, elegant, dignified
  • MARY and JOSEPH: These are prominent roles, but with very few lines. It would be difficult for the actors playing Mary and Joseph to double in other roles.

SETTING:

At the beginning of the musical, the stage is set to represent a small section of Bethlehem Street. The Inn occupies a significant position, with a front desk or check-in window visible. To one side, farther from the audience, there is a painted flat, curtain, or screen which hides the interior of the stable. The set can be fully realized, or merely suggested with boxes, ladders, and signs.

DIRECTOR'S RESOURCES:

By Tom Long

COSTUMES:

All of the characters can wear the "traditional" Biblical costumes found in church nativity plays, i.e., layered robes, Arab head dresses, staffs for the shepherds, crowns for the kings, etc. If your cast is large enough that the children are not doubling parts, you can dress the inn staff in distinct matching colors or styles, as well as having distinct costumes for shepherds, kings, etc. If you have a small cast, you can dress everyone in a simple Biblical robe or tunic, and then quickly add costumes pieces when the actors change from one character to the next, e.g., put on furry vests to become shepherds; put on crowns and richer robes to become kings; put on colored sashes or headbands to become hotel staff. In the interest of saving rehearsal time, some groups may wish to costume only the principal actors who have lines, and place the chorus on risers to one side or to the rear wearing choir robes, dress clothes, or matching T-shirts.

For the camel, possibilities include:

  1. Two actors wearing brown pants or tights stand one behind the other. They are covered with a large brown sheet sewn to fit over them so that their heads create the humps. A rope tail is sewn to the rear. The front actor holds a stick, about the size of a broom stick, angled forward from his body, creating the support for the camel's neck and head. The neck and head attached to the stick can be a paper mache mask, or can be created by one or two extra large overstuffed brown stockings with a painted poster board mask added.
  2. One actor wears a hooded brown sweat suit with a pillow stuffed under the back. The effect is completed with a rope tail and a camel mask and/or ears.

SET:

The set represents a section of Bethlehem Street, and can be simply realized with boxes, signs and suggested scenery; or it can be elaborately staged with platforms and painted buildings - let your imagination and resources be your guide. A "Bethlehem Street" sign, "Benjamin's Inn" sign, and "Inn Stable" can help to establish the necessary locations. The front desk of the Inn can be as simple as a table with a sign on it, or a more elaborate counter window in the wall of the inn. A compromise solution would be to take an old table and nail three boards to it - an upright "post" on each end and a horizontal piece across the top connecting the posts, three or four feet above the table. The boards would suggest a window opening or frame with the table as the counter. You could then attach the inn sign or front desk sign to the top of the frame.

The interior of the stable must be hidden by the "wall" of the stable, which is moved to reveal the nativity scene at the climax of the play. Options for the wall are:

  1. A decorated lightweight screen that could be slid to one side at the appropriate moment
  2. A brown cloth or burlap curtain hung in a wooden frame or a frame made from painted plastic PVC plumbing tubes. At the climax, the curtain would be pulled to one side or lifted open.
  3. One or two theatrical flats, painted to resemble large stable doors. When the time comes to move the "wall," the flat or flats could be moved to represent the door opening.

Inside the stable is the familiar wooden, straw-filled manger. The side of the manger toward the audience must be high enough to hide the Christ child from the audience's view.

PROPS:

  • Broom or duster
  • 4 scrolls for Heralds
  • 5 signs, each with a large "B" on it
  • Bundle or pack for Joseph to carry with an extra blanket in it
  • "Caesar's Place" sign
  • "Best Middle Eastern" sign
  • "Motel VI" sign
  • Sign with a large bright star, on which the Motel VI" sign can be mounted
  • "Front desk" sign
  • Forms and writing quills for front desk
  • Stable parking ticket and official stamp
  • 'No Sandals, No Tunic, No Service" sign
  • "Valet Hitching" sign
  • Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh for the kings
  • Optional: sand and sandals, turban, play money dollar bills

PERFORMANCE OPTIONS

Option 1: Perform the musical exactly as written utilizing the children themselves to play all the parts. Use the cast, set, staging, and costume suggestions found in the production notes.

Option 2: For younger children, or for those times when you must present a musical in a very short period of time.

Use the following cast suggestions with Option 2:

  • Benjamin - use an adult or a high school student.
  • Rachel - use an adult or high school student.
  • 1 Herald - this child would do all the Herald parts (some lines might need to be altered.)
  • 1 Staff - this child would do all the staff parts (some lines might need to be altered.) Two other staff members would have no lines.
  • 1 Guest - this child would do all the guest parts (some lines might need to be altered.)
  • 1 Clerk - this child would do all the guest parts (some lines might need to be altered.)
  • Crowd - one child would do all the crowd parts.
  • Shepherds - two or three
  • Kings - three
  • Mary
  • Joseph

Option 3: Another great way to present this musical would be to incorporate puppets into the performance.

The puppets can be made of cardboard. Give the puppets human qualities such as eyes, nose, mouth, hair, etc.

Costuming: Use the same amount of characters in the original cast list. Use the same costume designs for the puppets as those for the actors. Use a basic cardboard man and woman and decorate with cloth. Re-enforce the cardboard and place on a stick.

Set: You will need a curtain or table to hide the puppeteers. You will also need a cassette player to play the sing-a-long demonstration tape. If you choose to do so, you may want the puppeteers to do the speaking parts (you will then need microphones for the puppeteers.) Four or five puppeteers could perform this puppet production.

Staging Suggestions are also included.