The Mesa Easter Pageant is the cumulative work of many individuals over many years. At its heart are the life and mission of Jesus Christ.
Over the decades, scripts and musical scores have been rewritten; however, its message has always remained the same: Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and He invites all to come unto Him to receive life, light, healing and salvation.
A New Script and Score
The pageant script comes almost entirely from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Published in 1611 following the advent of printing, the King James Bible found its way into an increasingly large and diverse group of people. Printed versions became relatively inexpensive compared to copies by hand painstakingly made by diligent scribes. And given the enormous resources devoted to the project, the volume became what was then the most faithful and scholarly translation ever produced.
The careful and devoted work of the King James scholars yielded an English translation unlike anything people had ever read before. Readers in the 17th century, like countless poets, musicians, and leaders since that time, were inspired by the majesty and beauty of its prose. Today, after more than 400 years, the King James version still exerts a powerful influence on our language, literature, and music.
The newest script and score of the Mesa Easter Pageant, arranged and composed by local composer Rob Gardner, reflect the staying power of the King James Bible. Its poetic cadences and vivid imagery lend a depth and richness to the pageant’s portrayals of the Savior’s life and provide familiar anchors to the soaring and complex themes of the musical score. Combining the old with the new, the script and score couch a timeless message meant for all people in some of the most beautiful language ever written.
A Devoted Cast
The cast of the pageant consists of volunteer performers who auditioned for their roles during the previous fall. Cast members consist of both individuals and entire families. All have devoted hundreds of hours in preparation.
Creative Director Jenee Prince provides this insight into the work of the directors and cast:
“What you see on stage is the result of hundreds of cast members giving many hours to express their love and gratitude for the Redeemer of the world. Individuals and families serve together over several weeks to present this beautiful Easter message. We often refer to our cast members as “storytellers” and it truly is a beautiful process to watch them recreate the most intimate moments of the Savior’s life on a grand scale.”
Behind the Scenes
Behind the scenes, the pageant is supported by a small army of volunteers whose collective contributions are essential to its successful presentation.
Pageant Committee Chair Matt Riggs shares these insights concerning the efforts to produce the pageant:
“Thousands of volunteer hours go into producing the Mesa Easter Pageant. Visitors will be amazed by the cast of more than 400 volunteers who practice for weeks leading up to the pageant. What visitors will not see are the committees of volunteers who function separately behind the scenes and then bring their efforts into a beautifully unified effort to produce the pageant.”
“These include the creative directors who hold auditions, determine placement of the cast on the stage, and work with choreographers to put together the beautiful, visual presentation.
The costume committee who begin in August each year and finish in May.
The makeup committee who provide and apply beards, mustaches, and makeup for the huge cast.
The stage production crew (small and large props) who spend countless hours building, assembling, and painting props and the stage for each year’s production.
The Frontline crew who provide order to parking, cleaning, and safety.
The security crew who provide security for everyone on, in front and behind the stage.
Suffice it to say, this amazing pageant could not go on without these consecrated and dedicated volunteers.”
“This is a very different production from its humble beginnings as a sunrise service in 1938,” says Jill Adair, communications director for Mesa Temple Events Committee. “On that Easter morning, young men and women of the Mesa Maricopa Stake hosted a statewide convention, and the culminating event of this festive weekend was an Easter Sunrise Service on the grounds of the temple.”
“From that time on, it became an annual event and a beloved community tradition, moving from sunrise to an evening production in 1977. It is now recognized as the largest annual outdoor Easter pageant in the world, drawing nearly 100,000 attendees during the two weeks before Easter.”
The Pageant Today
“As a gift to our community, the Easter pageant is an important reminder that there is more that unites us than divides us,” says Steve West, executive director of the Mesa Temple Events Committee.
“We are all brothers and sisters, children of a loving Heavenly Father who wants us all to come home. And we are all in need of a Savior. The pageant gives us an opportunity, as a community, to acknowledge together that He is the way, the truth, the life and the light and that His great love extends to all of us, no matter what our religious affiliation, race, culture or economic circumstance might be.
In this terribly divided, angry and tumultuous world, the pageant reminds us that as we each try harder to follow the Savior, we will draw closer to each other and to our Heavenly Father. Literally and symbolically, the pageant experience invites us to rejoice in this great truth and then commit ourselves to live it.”