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Savior's visit to New World highlights Manti Pageant

MANTI, Utah — The recently completed presentation of the Mormon Miracle Pageant: "A Testament of Jesus Christ," included a stunning new scene portraying Christ's visit to the Americas. The new scene depicted the majesty of Christ's dramatic arrival, His teachings as He organized His Church and His love in blessing the children, as told in the Book of Mormon. The scene was a major addition that included the writing of new script and the creation of new costuming.

Yet, for many who were unaware of the addition, the scene blended seamlessly with the original script.

"We attempted to integrate the scene in such a way that viewers could tell no difference from when the original script ended, and when it began again after the new scene," said Ivo Peterson, pageant director.

The challenge, explained Brother Peterson, was to create a scene that carried the impact of Christ's visit in America within a narrow eight-minute time frame.

"Each word of the script was carefully weighed to be sure the scene created the greatest impact," Brother Peterson continued.

"I wanted enough people on the hill for this scene to give the impression of a large group," Brother Peterson said. "This required that a major portion of the cast be involved. With only 12 minutes between the end of this scene and the beginning of the pioneer scene that followed, we needed costumes that would be workable for both scenes."

Designers solved the challenge by creating costumes that could either be worn under other costumes, or could be easily changed.

In anticipation of the new scene, costume designers created 140 new costumes during the off season that were to be worn during the Christ in America scene. The pageant committee was mildly surprised, however, when a larger than expected number of people auditioned for the scene in late May.

"In about two weeks, designers had to make another 140 costumes," Brother Peterson said. "They were completed just before the pageant began."

The 34th annual production of the Mormon Miracle Pageant played June 15-17 and 20-24 on the steep hillside beside the Manti Temple. It follows three interwoven storylines that portray the restoration of the gospel, Christ's visit to the Americas, and Robert and Mary Henshaw, latter-day pioneers. The pageant is credited as the largest single-night attended pageant in the U.S., with an estimated 16,000 visitors, totalling nearly 125,000 during the eight nights of performance.