Brendan O’Shaugnessy | July 26, 2016
Jonathan Embry knew the teenagers at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in South Bend weren’t exactly enthused about the annual Christmas pageant production. The organist at the church and a graduate student in Notre Dame’s Program of Sacred Music, Embry decided to make the most of a script clearly written for younger kids.
“I told them this is cheesy, so you need to embrace it and have fun,” he said. “You have to go all out with it and make it your gift to the church.” The teens responded, injecting humor by adapting the campy aspects to their peer set. They pretended to headbang during a musical number and used a flashlight app on their cell phones to mimic ancient torches.
“People said it was the best musical in a long time,” Embry said. “We learned something about performing – that it’s better to be bold and make mistakes than to be timid and make mistakes. They taught me it’s more important to give a moving and memorable performance.”