The Nauvoo pageants are performances based on actual records, accounts and journals from the early days of the Restoration. Many of the characters portrayed in the pageants are real people, some of whom have names that are recognizable to Latter-day Saints. Other characters are composites of the experiences of several Saints of the time.
Visitors who haven’t been to Nauvoo in the last few years might have missed the debut of a new major performance: “Truth Will Prevail,” often simply called the British Pageant. This newer pageant was created by Church members in the United Kingdom, who performed it in Chorley, England, in 2013. This story of Church members in the British Isles was soon adopted into the pageant schedule in Nauvoo as well, and the two pageants, “Truth Will Prevail” and “Nauvoo,” are now performed there on alternating nights.
When “Nauvoo” was first performed in 2005, replacing the original “City of Joseph” pageant, Jack Renhouf, then the president of the pageant, talked about how the new performance was intended to be only one part of a wider endeavor. “In a general sense,” he told the Church News at that time, “the ‘Nauvoo Pageant’ becomes the Nauvoo Pageant experience.” Thus, the pageants are only part of what the Church offers in the city.
Both performances are preceded by the “country fair,” where members of the family cast host a variety of activities for visitors, including dancing, sack racing, pulling handcarts, games and crafts.
Young Performing Missionaries also put on a variety of shows and events, and some of them participate in the pageants as well. The core cast members of the pageant also put on a set of historical “vignettes,” reprising their roles from the pageant. These shorter performances give visitors an opportunity to experience certain significant parts of Nauvoo’s history in greater depth than they are shown in the pageants.
The vignettes include a retelling of the early history of the Relief Society, readings from letters exchanged between Joseph and Emma Smith, an excerpt of the Prophet Joseph’s sermon at the funeral of his friend King Follett, and stories of the missionary experiences of some of the early apostles of this dispensation.
Missionaries, including senior missionaries, host many activities and events around Nauvoo as well, including cart rides pulled by horses and oxen, teaching about the old-fashioned blacksmithing or brickmaking methods in recreated or preserved buildings of Old Nauvoo, and even a musical performance.