Miller James had been holding his dream of running a children’s theater for years at bay, waiting for that chance to start. He had been married to the idea of waiting for the perfect space, but realized that might never come. It would be better, he realized, just to put on a show first. This former costume designer for Opera Santa Barbara and head of Ensemble’s Storybook Theater program decided the time was right, and the personal support was there. And now at the Santa Barbara Community Church, he and his large community company are about to mount “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
“The Best” started life as a children’s book by Barbara Robinson, which along the way became a little-seen (and not well loved) TV movie starring Loretta Switt. But it’s done best as a piece of regional theater, for several reasons: it’s a satire on pageants while doing double duty as one; its large cast means choice roles for young actors; its setting (a church) means one can perform it … in a church.