Last year, a new Church Pageant opened in the British Isles. More than 300 volunteers gave nine performances of “Truth Will Prevail,” a musical production that tells the story of early Latter-day Saints in Britain. Audiences of more than 1,500 people attended the pageant, including Elders Russell M. Nelson, M. Russell Ballard and Jeffrey R. Holland.
Ten years ago, volunteers performed the first-ever production of the Nauvoo Pageant, which tells the story of early Mormon history in the area.
Both pageants’ scripts draw from journals and historical records and feature original, traditional music. And this year, they will share a stage on the banks of the Mississippi in Nauvoo.
A cast and crew of more than 1,100 volunteers will perform the pageants from July 8 through Aug. 2, 2014, in Nauvoo. The Nauvoo Pageant will be presented on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 p.m.; the British Pageant will be on Wednesdays and Fridays at the same time. Both pageants are free with no reservation required and unlimited seating.
The performance of both pageants brings into sharp focus the close relationship between Mormons in Britain and in the United States during the 1800s. The vast numbers of converts from the British Isles helped the religious community in Nauvoo to flourish.
The British Pageant closes with the departure of ships from England bound for the United States, there to join the growing community of Saints. The Nauvoo Pageant opens with the arrival of boats up the Mississippi bringing new Saints to Nauvoo, which rivaled Chicago in size and population.
“There’s music and dance and wonderful entertainment,” said David Warner, the Nauvoo pageant’s artistic director and writer. “Best of all, there are inspirational stories of real people who faced life’s challenges with great optimism, industry and faith.”
Similarly, the British Pageant tells the story of a community by focusing on individuals.
“It is the story of those who seek for truth and, having found it, are loyal and true to it,” said Stephen Kerr, president of the British Pageant. “It is our story, and in telling it in the words of our [ancestors], we believe we are also sharing our own personal testimonies … of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”