Shorter, revised Mormon Miracle Pageant still draws good crowds
MANTI—Despite some challenges and changes to a 50-year tradition, under the guiding hands of a new president and director, attendance rose at the Mormon Miracle Pageant from last year, and thousands of people got to see it again, “for the first time.”
Official attendance numbers for the eight-night production was 74,805—up more than 4,000 people from the 2016 tally of 70,600.
New Pageant President Milton Olsen says his first year had a happy ending, with loads of positive feedback from the attendees and cast members.
I think it went well,” Olsen said. “It’s a little hard to know for sure, but in the grand scheme of things, I think it went really well.”
In regards to the pageant attendees, Olsen said, “There were many people who commented that they were very touched, and said it was like seeing the pageant again for the first time.”
Pageant-goers were not the only ones who were happy with the outcome, said Olsen. Time and time again, he said, the feedback from the cast of more than 900 was very positive—especially after overcoming some initial challenges.
“The opinion changed as time went by,” he said. “It started out a little difficult because all of a sudden things were different from the way they’d been. The unknown, and ‘how do we deal with this, and that?’ came up, but as time went by they came together and all those concerns and issues got answered.”
The new pageant director for 2017, Denise Hagemeister, says her first year as director also had its share of challenges and rewards, and in the end, it was very positive.
Hagemeister said that the differences in her directing created some apprehension with the cast, and breaking some habits created from a 50-year Pageant tradition wasn’t always easy, but once the cast learned to accept her new direction and methods—and work with her vision—things went smoothly.
“The biggest highlight was when I had to stop working so hard to get people to accept my new style,” Hagemeister said. “I had some expectations that different directors didn’t, and it always takes people a while to get used to a new director’s style. When they stopped fighting and started helping and working together, things went really great.”
Hagemeister says she had changes in mind for the pageant from the outset of her appointment as director. Having not grown up in Sanpete County gave her a different perspective on the pageant, and a desire to make some adjustments. Those adjustments didn’t happen overnight, she says, but when they did, it was rewarding.
“There were some really beautiful moments during the pageant when what was in my head translated to the stage very nicely,” Hagemeister said. “That doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you go, ‘that was way better in my head.’”
Hagemeister doesn’t solely credit herself for the successful implementation of changes to the pageant, however.
“The cast was what made those beautiful moments happen,” she said. “They might be under my direction, but it was their work that created them.”
Olsen says that he, and the cast and crew, learned some good lessons in his first year behind the wheel.
“So much of what happens you just learn by going through the experience,” Olsen said.