An Old Fashioned Christmas Concert

  • Cast Number: 12
  • Run-time: 90 minutes
  • Bible Reference: Luke 2

A Sunday School concert program with an on-going drama (cast of 12) set in 1941, as people prepare for a Sunday School Christmas concert, with the war on their minds. Has parts for various Sunday School classes, (numbers of parts, and numbers of classes, can be easily increased or decreased. Therefore this drama could cover any number of Sunday School children). Since the program is written in segmented form, one or more segments can be added or dropped. Several carols are suggested.

Theme:
This drama tells of a Church Christmas Concert set in the year 1941. It is written in a segmented format in order that the individual segments may be self-standing. This allows for individual, small group practices and permits, where necessary, that certain portions be eliminated due to time or number of performers available.
In order to tie the entire production together, two threads run through the entire production. These are:
- the rehearsal and performance of "The Three Wise Men". In this on-going segment three young people are "volunteered" to play the three Wise Men in the concert. They procrastinate and complain until sharp words from the janitor finally show them the real reason for witnessing.
- the realities of war are kept as a thread running through the program as families and friends deal with having loved ones and neighbours serving overseas in the war effort.

Cast:
All children from various Family Bible Hour classes
Brad the janitor - can be any age from late teen to senior
Preacher Jenkins - can be any age from late teen to senior
Mother - middle age
Hearts on Fire Quartet (late teenagers):
Peter
Jon
Colin
Trevor

The Three Wise Men - early or pre-teens (male or female, if possible one girl):
Deanna (Balthazar)
Kelvin (Gaspar)
Daniel (Melchior)

Joy In The Morning Monologue:
Actress - (mid to late teens)
Female singer - any age

Props:
(See Staging) Little is required in the way of props. Signs are needed for the younger classes showing the individual letters in their recitations.

Lighting:
Bright lighting is required when the children's groups perform. For all other segments lighting should be lower level. For lighting for monologue see specific directions in that section of the script.

Costumes:
Costumes should be of from the early 1940's, with longer dresses for girls, bib overalls for boys, black suit with white shirt and "preacher's collar" for the preacher. Brad the janitor has bib overalls and a cap.
Three Wise Men require robes and crowns as befit kings of that era. Shepherds and angels dressed appropriately. Shepherds have beards.

Sound:Actress in monologue needs lapel mike, singer a hand-held mike. All children should speak directly into standing mike or a hand-held mike held by teacher or assistant. All others will either be un-miked or use area mikes. Ensure that all mikes are hidden as much as possible.

Staging:
The main prop will be the stage which, at the opening will be in the final stages of construction. This could simply be some boards laid on top of the existing stage, or it could be a stage built 18" to 24" high, and as large as space permits. Along the front will be the provision to have a wire strung across on which quilts will be hung for stage curtains. On the walls have "Buy War Bonds" posters, pictures and materials which will set the time frame for the drama.
For the monologue have a background of flats painted black.
Have all lines for the younger children's classes on slides or overheads, project them on screen or back wall as children say these lines. In this way, if lines are low volume, or forgotten, audience will get the meaning.

Sample of script:

Drama opens with Brad coming on stage, moves some boards around, moves off to a position at Downstage Left. As voices are heard Brad steps back into shadows, (arrange that he can still be seen by audience, leave the impression that he can't be seen by the other actors as they come in). The voices of Deanna, Daniel and Kelvin will be heard from the foyer. At point noted, they come into the sanctuary through back doors.

Voices:
Daniel: Look you guys! Miz Johnson expects us to have our lines memorized for the church Christmas Concert, for Pete's sake. She'll be really mad if she finds out that we haven't!

Kelvin: I have half a mind to tell Miz Johnson that I don't want to do this play. And I'm going to tell her what I think of this beard too!

Daniel: Kelvin, you're always grouching about the beard. We are supposed to be the Wise Men, for Pete's sake. Beards and Wise Men. They go together like, like, . . . well, . . . they just go together, OK? What's so bad about the beards anyways, for Pete's sake?

Kelvin: What's so bad about the beards? You are asking me what's so bad about these beards? Well, I shall tell you what's so bad about these beards! They are hot, yes, and they are itchy, and what's more, they stink, that's what! Do you get the message, Daniel? And do you realize that we shall have to stay on stage for the whole Christmas concert. By the time we're finished, these beards will be positively obnoxious. Now, then. Have I made my feelings quite clear to you, Daniel? Have I given you a very clear indication of just exactly what's wrong with the stupid beards, Daniel?

Deanna: Well, what I can't figure out is why we're doing this anyways! I mean, what's the big deal, why is it life or death that there always needs to be Wise Men in every dumb concert, every dumb year?

Three enter sanctuary from rear doors, deliver lines as they walk to the front.

Daniel: But it's the Christmas story for Pete's sake! There's always Wise Men in the Christmas story. You know that! Now come on you two, let's get at it, for Pete's sake! Where's your scripts? We might as well go through our lines until Miz Johnson gets here, for Pete's sake!

Deanna: Since when are you the big boss over this play, Daniel? Have you appointed yourself the director or something? Don't tell me, Mr. John Ford, right? You directed How Green Was My Valley, the best movie of this year, 1941, right? Now 20th Century-Fox sent you to head up this Church Christmas concert, right?

Daniel: Look, for Pete's sake! All I'm saying is, you guys are goofing off, for Pete's sake! We've got a play to get ready for. We're supposed to be the Three Wise Men, and we're acting like the Three Stooges, for Pete's sake!

Kelvin: Just keep your shirt on, Daniel! Look, we might as well do it, Deanna, or we'll never get any peace from, . . . from . . Willy Shakespeare here! Where's our lines? OK, here now, you have the first line Deanna.

All three pick up pages, start to read.

Deanna: I want to tell you of happenings of which we were proud participants. I am Balthazar, a member of the Zoroastrian priestly caste of Persia, in the Orient. We were well known as teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers; some called us Wise Men. Some of our number had noted the rising of a remarkable star. This discovery initiated a chain of events which will live forever in my mind, and in that of my two friends and companions, Gaspar and Melchior.

Kelvin: Yes dear Balthazar, I, Gaspar, had for many years been studying ancient writings. Many of these writings spoke of a coming king of the Jewish nation, a king sometimes referred to as the Messiah. These ancient writings often spoke of a star which was to be a sign of the king's coming. I knew not precisely what the meaning of this star might be. So I called on the expertise of my friend Melchior, a respected astrologer.

Daniel: When Gaspar spoke to me of this matter I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the search we were about to undertake. It was obvious that in following this star we would be travelling extensively. We would require professional assistance in this area. Instantly I thought of an acquaintance, Balthazar, a renowned traveler, an organizer of camel trains, a man who knew the lands to the west as most men knew the backs of their hands.

Deanna: And so it was that we found ourselves and our entourage following a bright star. Many of my friends, travellers on these roads, believed we had taken leave of our senses. How, they asked, was it that we would leave all behind, following a star, we knew not where?Kelvin: For ages, it seemed, we followed the star, never coming any closer to it's source. And then as we approached Jerusalem the star seemed to gain in intensity. Up ahead shone the mighty palace of King Herod. Aha, I thought! Of course! How appropriate, the King of the Jews, born in the most luxurious palace in Jerusalem. So we made haste to the court of Herod, enquiring of him his knowledge of this happening.

Daniel: My recounting of the phenomenon of the star seemed to disturb Herod greatly, and all the leaders of the Jerusalem community with him. Herod called a meeting of all the Jewish religious leaders. Herod asked these leaders if they knew where this Messiah might be born.

Kelvin: It was then that the words of the prophet Micah came back to me, "O little town of Bethlehem, you are not just an unimportant little Judean village. For a Governor shall rise from you, to rule my people Israel". Of course! How could I have overlooked this oft-read ancient writing?

Deanna: In a meeting with Herod and his advisers we were asked to proceed with haste to Bethlehem. Herod requested that we inform him when the Babe was found, that Herod might also pay his respects. His tone of voice and the secretive glances between Herod and his advisers made me question their sudden interest.

Daniel: Leaving Jerusalem, we set out those few miles to Bethlehem. My heart near burst within my chest as there, immediately over the little town of Bethlehem, shone the star which we had followed those many miles.

Kelvin: There before us was a stable, from within came a radiant glow. Entering in we found a baby and his mother. And we fell to the earthen floor, overcome with feelings of adoration. And with great humility I gave my gift of chrusos (pronounce khroo-sos'), gold.

Deanna: And libanos (pronounce lib'-an-os), frankincense.

Daniel: And smurna (pronounce smoor'-nah), myrrh.

Kelvin: In a dream I was warned that we must not return to Herod.

Deanna: And so, calling on the lessons of my many years of travel, I found a secret route which safely bypassed Jerusalem.

Daniel: And we returned to our own eastern lands, with this marvelous story in our minds, and the love for this tiny Babe in our hearts.

Actors put sheets down.

Kelvin: I guess the story is OK, but really, do we need to tell this story every year. I mean, there's nothing new, is there?

Deanna: Oh look, there's Miz Johnson in the Sunday School room, let's go tell her we've been practicing for an hour already. Maybe she'll let us go home now.

Actors leave stage area. Brad comes on stage out from the shadows, looks at the three actors as they leave the stage

Brad: Nothing new? How could they speak the words of that lovely story without seeing the newness that jumps from the words on the page?
How could they possibly miss it? Christian kids! They have so much religion in their minds and so little of the love of Jesus in their hearts! Sad, really sad, isn't it? Oh well, I have work to do.

Brad hammers the last nails in the stage.

Brad: There! Solid as a rock! Best stage we've ever had for a Christmas concert at Elm Street Church. In spite of the attitudes of those three kids, it should be a great service.

Trevor , Colin, Peter and Jon carry the quilts, frame and wire for the curtains on stage.

Peter: So, Jon, did Miz Johnson get you to take a part in the concert?

Jon: No chance! I said I didn't want to be in her concert!

Colin: Oh Jon, that's too bad! I mean, after all, you're just a natural Gary Cooper!

Trevor: Yeh, Jon. Coop, that's you! I can just see you onstage with your leading lady. Joooody, Joooody, Joooody!

Brad: Look you guys. Do I get a hand here or not. How be if you guys help out just a little. Anyways, you sound more like Abbott and Costello than Gary Cooper! Maybe if you spend a little more time getting ready and a little less time kibitzing we just might be finished by the time everyone gets here. Remember, it's Christmas 1941, it would be nice if we could be ready before 1942!

Colin: Yeh, there's a war going on in Europe, let's be Brad's "allies" and get on with it, okay?

Peter: A war going on, Colin? How would you know? Your family got excused from enlisting so's they could "serve in the local war effort"! Local war effort! Your father had friends in the government, that's all! Most of us send our family over there fighting for your freedom while others hide behind their political buddies!

Trevor: Sorry, Peter. Have you heard from your brother lately?

Peter: Heard? Oh, yeh, we've heard alright! Letter said David was, "missing in action". Who knows, a captive in some Nazi work camp, or, or, maybe he's, he's d . d. . . who knows?

Colin: Sorry, Peter, I didn't mean, like I forgot, that was very insensitive of me.

Jon: Must be tough on your folks, Peter. How's your Momma holding up?

Peter: Momma? Momma tries to hide it from the little kids. Lawrence and Milly don't really understand what's going on, anyways. But even though he doesn't show it, I think it's toughest on Pop. You know my Pop. He's really quiet and that, but deep down I know he's dying a little bit more every day. I happen to know that Pop went down to the Army Recruitment Center and tried to enlist. They wouldn't take him though, his bad eyes I guess. They offered Pop latrine duty. I expect my Pop let them know right quick that emptying toilets wasn't how he planned to fight a war!

Trevor: Is there something we can do Peter?

Peter: Do? You do whatever you want, but next month when I turn 18 I'm outa here, I'm gonna sign up. I'll show those Nazis a thing or two. Maybe I'll even find David, that is, if he's still, still . . . .



Brad clears throat: Look you guys, are you gonna stand around all day? The church Christmas Concert'll be startin' in a few minutes and we're not ready.

Jon: OK, let's string the curtains for the stage. Colin, give me a hand with this line, hook it over there. And be careful, this is my Momma's clothesline. She'll skin me alive if it comes back with a kink in it!

Trevor: You hold on to this end of the quilt Peter, I'll pin this end up.

Brad: Here comes some people, they're coming into church already. I thought you four were s'posed to be singin' as people came in.

Colin: OK, let's go, and, Peter, I'm sorry, really sorry for being so insensitive. Please, forgive me.

Peter: Forget it, it's OK, I guess it's just been a bad day for me. The news of Pearl Harbor last week and then the letter about David, it's been a bad week, I guess. Oh, here comes Preacher Jenkins.

Preacher comes on stage.

Preacher: Good evening ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Welcome to our 1941 Church Christmas concert. It's cold outside, but we've put extra wood in the furnace. Some of you have brought automobiles, we'll excuse you from time to time as you run outside to warm them up. So let's sit back as the Sunday School ministers to us tonight. First though, please bow with me as we open in a word of prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father, we pray that tonight we will learn just a little bit more of Your love for us. Be with each child tonight as they minister to us.
And Lord, we hold up our dear ones who are far away on foreign soil tonight, fighting for liberty in places like France, and Britain, the Aleutian Islands, Africa, wherever they are, Lord. Be with them Lord, strengthen them, bring them home soon we pray. Be with those who have lost loved ones in the fighting Lord. In those times when the pain seems more than we can bear, help us to place our trust in You. We pray all these things in your precious name, Lord. Amen.
Now, we've asked four of our senior boys if they'll lead us in an opening carol. Stand with us and feel free to sing along, please!

Hearts on Fire lead in O Come All Ye Faithful

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