When cast assembles, 'miracles' occur

"When the 600 volunteer cast members assemble at Hill Cumorah at pageant time, small miracles occur," said Jerry Argetsinger who is in his fourth year as director of the Hill Cumorah Pageant.

"It would normally take months to cast a production this size," Brother Argetsinger said. "We do it in one morning. We are in rehearsal by afternoon and have it all put together and on stage a day and a half later, and have dress rehearsal in five days. That is a miracle by any theatrical standards."The miracle's rewards were again realized the evening of July 9 when the 56th annual Hill Cumorah Pageant began its seven-performance run before an audience of 8,500. Marshall Brinton of the pageant's public affairs office said a survey showed that 61 percent of the people in the audience were not members of the LDS Church.

The pageant was presented July 9-10 and 13-17 with an estimated audience of about 70,000.

The pageant, presented on the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York, is a dramatic portrayal of events from the Book of Mormon. It includes the rise and fall of ancient civilizations on the American continent, the spiritual struggles of its inhabitants, and the appearance of the resurrected Savior on the American continent.

Added to the special effects this year are two small volcanoes. They erupt along with another larger volcano depicting the earth's turmoil at the time Christ was crucified.

The pageant story was adapted from the Book of Mormon by Orson Scott Card. Crawford Gates composed the music, which is performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Utah Symphony and the Salt Lake Children's Choir.

The casting process began July 3 when the 600 participants gathered in

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