Performers share talent, gospel in Oakland pageant

Re-creating sacred events from the time of Christ to the latter days, performers in the Oakland Temple Pageant, "And It Came To Pass," inspired capacity audiences in the Interstake Center Auditorium here July 21 to Aug. 1.

More than 14,000 people viewed the pageant, in its 34th year, during 14 performances on Oakland's Temple Hill. "And It Came To Pass," with more than 200 actors, singers and dancers, is the only remaining live indoor pageant in the Church.This year's pageant was presented by members of 18 Bay Area stakes, under the leadership of Clair Wright, pageant president. The pageant was produced by Steve Harris and directed by Denise Adams.

The stage of the Interstake Center Auditorium was transformed into a multilevel set where performers brought to life stories from Christ's ministry, the experiences of Mormon and Moroni, the First Vision, the life and death of Joseph Smith, the pioneer trek to the West under the direction of Brigham Young, and finally, the spread of the gospel around the world.

Daniel Scott Brown, who served as understudy in the role of Joseph Smith, called the pageant "truly a unique opportunity to combine theatrical talent with the missionary effort."

The actors in the pageant were supported by a troupe of dancers performing sequences choreographed under the direction of Clayton Gardner. Of particular note were the scenes re-creating the tragic results of the persecution of early Church members, a rousing pioneer hoe-down and interpretations of folkloric dances.

More than 2,500 original costumes provided a colorful stage presence, particularly during the closing scene that featured nearly 100 performers dressed in authentic ethnic clothing. The costumes are the special project of Lynette Olsen, who is retiring after serving as wardrobe director for the past 16 years.

Musical accompaniment was provided by the 40-piece Oakland Pageant Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro John Pew. The 500-voice Oakland Pageant balcony chorus, which was comprised mainly of Bay Area youth, rendered a powerful vocal effect from the upper levels of the auditorium.

Elder Norman Boehm, an Area Authority Seventy, emphasized how impressed he was by the quality of the music, the storylines and the scenery.

"This as a wonderful performance," he said. "I am impressed with the talent involved in making this such a special event. I can't say enough about the people who worked so hard to make this pageant so successful, especially those who did so much in the background."

C. Malcolm Warner, president of the California Oakland Mission, said this is the first year the missionaries have been so heavily involved with the audiences before and after the performances. The missionaries set up two booths on the temple grounds where investigators could receive a free lithograph of Christ, a Book of Mormon or a video. Pres. Warner said Friday evenings were designated as investigator evenings, with members encouraged to bring a friend of another religion.

"The pageant is marvelous," said Pres. Warner. "It has a tremendous message, particularly for the youth, as it portrays the . . . missionaries going all over the world."

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