The Rock Church in San Diego knows how to throw a big Christmas pageant. First, have their theatre director Christine Friel pick this original and fun script Camel Lot by Cyndi Nine. Next, stage it in their state-of-the-art facilities with great seating for thousands and all manner of lighting possibilities that lighting designer Noah Hawley can play with. And finally, bring in about 160 kids from their Rock Academy Elementary program, half of which are under the age of eight, and have them dance and sing their hearts and souls out to this entertaining story.

Camel Lot begins in the present day as young Beth prepares for her role in a Christmas pageant, but is saddened to learn that her father, who works at a car lot, is too busy and wonít be able to attend. Upon falling asleep, she dreams that sheís back in Bethlehem during another Christmas. The night of Jesusí birth.

Well, perhaps itís not exactly 2,000 years ago. Thereís a lot of modern references to Bethís world in this dream. Her dad is there, going by the name Barnabus, and instead of a car lot, heís selling camels at the local Camel Lot. And heís got all kinds of camels to sell. Hybrids who donít eat as much as regular camels, camels that run on water, camels with custom hooves. Youíve got customers asking for a camel that doesnít bite or spit and has lots of tassels. You get the idea. And if you donít, youíve got the second and fifth grade students trying to put you in the camel of your dreams with Weíve Got a Camel for You. But will her dadís brisk camel business keep him too busy to come attend the birth of baby Jesus?

The cast includes Pamela Andujo as Beth through whose eyes we see most of the story unfold, seeing things with her happy wonder and helping to lead us through Donít Miss the Manger. Her dad is played by Wesley Dameron who does a very nice job as the business-minded father who slowly begins to see what heís been missing. A few other standouts include Kaitie Mayhue as his camel lot assistant Lydia, Montana Duggan as a charming Southern shepherd Jamie Sue, Macy Augustus as Ruth and Nitzan Shlapobersky as Deborah who join Bradyn Reiakvam in spreading the Good News accompanied by the sixth grade class, and Christie Koppel as popular and affluent Brittany who boasts sheís getting a new camel for graduation. Kylie Dixon and Wiett Sills are the humorous rich couple who nab the last room at the inn (The Star Hotel), but who canít wait to get back to their villa. Kylie also joins with Ryan Lehmkuhl as soloists in the snappy No Silent Night knocked out so well by the kindergarten and third grade choruses. While the fourth grade class and soloist Jared Dameron, accompanied by the strains of some air guitars, deliver a hip and hilarious Follow That Star.

The ensemble of kids and an exceptional young choir deliver good, enthusiastic vocals with their singing and great energy with their dancing to Juliann Frielís choreography which captures the dynamics of the show while also being humorous and cute for the younger cast members. That cast wraps things up with a lively Joy to the World that is sure to send the audience out in the Christmas spirit.

Performs December 10, 2009

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Beth: Pamela Andujo
Dad/Barnabus: Wesley Dameron
Lydia: Kaitie Mayhue
Johnny/Jonathon: Ezra Haddock
Sarah: Kristina Briggs
Matthew: Noah Closson
Rich Man: Wiett Sills
Rich Woman: Kylie Dixon
Shopper Dad: Roman West
Son: Bradyn Reiakvam
Gentleman: John Garwood
Cowboy: Ryan Lehmkuhl
Deborah: Nitzan Shlapobersky
Ruth: Macy Augustus
Jamie Sue: Montana Duggan
Brittany: Christie Koppel
Sign Holder: Brianna Perry
Friend of Brittany: Sasha Horne and Aloni Harrell

~ Nativity ~
Mary: Sarah Fitch
Joseph: Ryan Lehmkuhl
Angel: Sasha Horne
Wise Man (1): Edward Kim
Wise Man (2): Bennett Macchiarella
Wise Man (3): John Garwood
Shepherd (1): Gianni Hotka
Shepherd (2): Ben Meyers
Shepherd (3): Everen Graves
Shepherd (4): Jared Dameron

Jace Chandler
Nitzan Shlapobersky
Roman West
Delcassia McCullough
Sincere Blackmon
Bruce Edwards
Timothy Harrison
John Garwood
Pamela Andujo
Jacob Tychsen
Everen Graves
Alex Dixon
Malia Naranjo
Desiree Fitch
Imara Shanley
Sarah Fitch
Jared Dameron
Noah Closson
Sasha Horne
Lilah Yang
Tanizia Andrews
Gianni Hotka
Bradyn Reiakvam
Riley Hooper
Jamie Sakasegawa
Kendall Penkala
Aloni Harrell
Miguel Ramirez
Wyatt Colson
Ben Meyers

Director: Christine Friel
Choir Director: Devonne Hanke
Choreographer: Juliann Friel
Costumer: Julie Frederick
Stage Manager: Cody Binggell
Props: Matt Hunt
Stage Hands: Clinton St. Clair and Patrick Frederick
Lighting Designer: Noah Hawley


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