Home » Local News » Life » Teenager takes charge of play

Teenager takes charge of play

Being directed by a soft spoken 16-year-old, isn’t what most actors expect when entering into a holiday play with a cast of over 50 performers.
“It struck me as somewhat funny or unusual at first, but it’s been good,” said Bill Coram, who plays Rev. Hopkins in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” “We can tell she knows what she’s doing.”
Ashton Howard, a student at Lincolnton High School, certainly does know what she’s doing. She’s been active in theater since she was six-years-old.
“I find it a really fun and rewarding experience, and I enjoy spending my time that way,” she said. “I really enjoy being on stage. I enjoy getting to be a different character.”
Although she has directed plays during drama camp, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is Ashton’s first serious attempt at directing.
The play, which is being put on by the First Baptist Church of Lincolnton, is a humorous and touching tale of a group of six troublesome children, the Herdmans, who virtually take over a church Christmas pageant.
“They terrorize the town. There’s one in every grade, so everyone gets terrified by them,” said Ashton.
By the end of the play, however, the siblings soften up a bit.
“The Herdmans learn the meaning of Christmas,” she said. “Everyone else realizes it through them.”
Ashton performed the play’s lead role at a church she used to attend.
“I had a lot of fun doing it with the other church, but I wanted to see it done differently,” she said.
And so, she took it upon herself to start up a new production. She cast parts, blocked scenes and learned the frustration of trying to get a large group of people to stay quiet.
“It hasn’t been easy,” she said. “They like to talk a lot.”
Members of her cast have noticed a change in the quiet teenager who was much more timid when rehearsals began.
“Here towards the end as the times gotten closer, she felt the pressure and pushed us harder,” said Coram. “She expects everyone, including her peers, to listen to her and respect her.”
Buzz around the church about the play has been positive, and the Sunday performance is sold out.
“At this point, there’s a waiting list,” said Gaye Howard, Ashton’s mother. “We expected a good turn out. We got a great turn out.”
An additional performance has been scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 8. Unlike Sunday’s performance, it will not be a dinner theater. The play will begin at 6:30 and a contribution of $5 per person is required.
Ashton is happy that the play will run more than once, but she has found herself getting more anxious as opening night draws closer.
“I’m nervous and excited because it’s not finished yet, and it never is until the night before,” she said.
Her cast shares her enthusiasm.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Montgomery Fletcher, a 10-year-old actor. “My favorite part is when we’re just talking, when you say a funny line that makes everyone laugh.”
Once the curtain draws on this play, Ashton plans on continuing her involvement in theater. She has even considered committing to it as a career one day.
“Even if I don’t pursue it professionally, I’ll do community theater all my life,” she said.
For more information on “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” call 704-732-1101.

Marty Coram takes the stage in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Coram plays Mrs. Armstrong, the neighborhood busybody. Sarah Grano / LTN Photo

by Sarah Grano

You must be logged in to post a comment Login