April Stanfield of Richland, Wash., works in the pageant primary tent Saturday.
More than 20 years ago, April Stanfield, of Richland, Wash., participated in the Hill Cumorah Pageant and knew then that she wanted to return with her future family. “I just remember the feelings of being in the scenes, especially in the ascension scene, of actually being there. I put myself in that place.” She teared up as she recalled what to her is a sacred memory. “I just wanted my kids to feel what I felt.”
The mother of four boys and two small girls “waited and waited and waited until it was the right time to bring them.” With her oldest son about to graduate from high school, “it was the last time with all my chicks in the nest that we could come.”
She stood sweaty Friday evening from an hour of dancing her heart out during casting and walked away clutching two tags that cast her as a wicked woman in Nephi’s court. She will watch her family in various roles from shepherds to warriors to children seeing Christ like she did.
For Sean Walker of Albuquerque, NM, his casting tag gave him a shock. He has been in the Hill Cumorah Pageant twice before. He even played King Noah. But as he carried his casting assignment badge to the costume assignment line Monday night, he carried the tag for the character of Joseph Smith with him.
“I was so humbled and surprised at this role,” Walker said. “Without Joseph Smith, we don’t have this pageant. To portray him where he actually walked is humbling and hopefully inspiring.”
Sean Walker begins fittings Saturday for the wig he will wear as part of his role as Joseph Smith.
As the evening ticked on, friends gathered to swap dancing stories, families reunited showing off their tag. The Keck siblings, Ella and Chandler, giggled as they showed each other their tags and discovered they were cast as a Nephi and Nephi’s wife, but are featured in different scenes. Everett Baldauf, 9, was thrilled to be selected as a boat child because “I get to get wet every day.” And Bountiful Utah’s Brett Ure probably summed up the thoughts of dozens of girls like her clutching banner and harvest dancer roles saying, “This is fun! When else do you get to dance besides weddings?”
To see more photos from casting night, visit the Hill Cumorah Pageant on Facebook.