Local church group presenting original Christmas musical

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Scene from ‘A Nephite Christmas.’ | Courtesy Sierra Robinson

Editor’s note: EastIdahoNews.com covers church events that are in the public interest. To submit an event from your congregation, email us at news@eastidahonews.com.

IDAHO FALLS – A local church group is hosting a large-scale Christmas celebration this week, and they want you to join them.

The Idaho Falls Central Stake with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is sponsoring “A Nephite Christmas.” The event is an original stage production written, produced and performed by members of the Idaho Falls community.

The play, based on a story in the Book of Mormon, is set in ancient America at the time of Jesus Christ’s birth. It’s told through the eyes of one family.

“The (birth of Jesus Christ) is a sweet story that’s told every year, but that first Christmas happened all over the world,” Denalee Chapman, the play’s writer and director tells EastIdahoNews.com. “We wanted to be a part of sharing how wonderful America’s first Christmas was and so we put together (a story portraying) the way it could have happened for one particular family.”

“A Nephite Christmas” is a musical featuring 12 original songs written by Chapman and Debbi Maynes. Chapman wrote and produced the play in 1994 while she and her husband were living in Guam. Efforts to resurrect the play locally started more than a year ago when Chapman was asked by her stake president to come up with a stake cultural event.

“We started work on this in November 2017, but the work started in earnest in January. Local people in our stake have built the sets, the props, made the costumes. All the talent is coming from our stake,” Chapman says.

Chapman’s background in television, both behind and in front of the camera, informs her efforts for the community production, but most of the performing cast members have no previous acting experience. The performances and quality of the production, however, will astound people, Chapman says.

Scene from ‘A Nephite Christmas.’ | Courtesy Sierra Robinson

Scene from ‘A Nephite Christmas.’ | Courtesy Sierra Robinson

“(Due to the lack of experience in the cast), we’ve practiced a lot longer than people who participate in community productions on a regular basis. These people have become polished (performers), and I think people will be surprised at how few people have professional skills,” says Chapman.

Ashley Yarrington, the play’s producer, says “A Nephite Christmas” will help people gain a fresh perspective on the Christmas story and their relationship with Jesus Christ.

“It will help people understand how to connect the Christ child with their everyday life,” says Yarrington. “We hope people will come, have a good experience and walk away feeling happy and uplifted.”

“A Nephite Christmas” is free and open to the public. There will be nightly performances Thursday to Saturday at 7 p.m. inside the LDS stake center at 2025 Jennie Lee Drive in Idaho Falls, with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Courtesy photo