The largest outdoor pageant in America is the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant, in upstate New York, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Featuring over 700 volunteers, the pageant portrays events from the Bible’s Old and New Testaments, and the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
Each July, seven evening performances are presented on the beautiful Cumorah hillside next to the new Visitors’ Center.
The production features a 10-level stage, with 50-foot light towers.
A cast of over 650 actors, hundreds of brilliant costumes and stunning special effects are presented to an audience in the thousands each performance night. A Hollywood production team designed the special effects, including waterfalls, water screens, volcanoes, fireballs and explosions. An estimated 500,000 watts of electricity are required to power each performance. As an illustration of the magnitude of these spectacular effects, pageant organizers are required to obtain clearance from U.S. aviation authorities before the show’s opening night!
The music was composed by world renown Crawford Gates, who also directed the recording with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Salt Lake Symphony, and a 100 voice children’s choir. In his history entitled “The delights of making Cumorah’s Music” Mr. Gates shares his spiritual preparation that was invested in the composition process:
“If I expected the incomparable blessing of inspiration to help me fulfill this calling, I needed to improve my own spiritual life, to recleanse myself. Georgia and I went to the temple more often. I taught a Book of Mormon class at BYU to more fully immerse myself in this scripture. Dr. Hansen and I both received special blessings at the hand of Apostle Harold B. Lee. My blessing was a particularly wonderful one. When I returned home, I recorded in writing as much of it as I could remember. Its conditional promises were indeed fulfilled…”
The pageant has been performed in upstate New York since 1937. Hill Cumorah is one of the Church’s most significant landmarks. Latter-day Saints believe that near this area the Church’s founder, Joseph Smith Jr., received a record of ancient American peoples from an angel. That record, written on metal plates, was translated into what is known as the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
The Hill Cumorah Pageant is FREE to the public of all ages!
Get Details Here: Hill Cumorah Pageant Official Website
The 90-minute performance is staged a few miles from Palmyra, New York, southeast of Rochester. The pageant begins at dusk (approximately 9:15 p.m.) There is ample seating and parking for 9,000 guests. You are encouraged to arrive by 8:30 p.m. Seating for persons who are disabled is also available, and headphones which provide Spanish translation are provided free upon request.
***THE IRONY OF THIS POST: I have never had the opportunity to personally see the Hill Cumorah Pageant yet. Therefore, I must live vicariously through all lucky souls that have attend this amazing event. I hear your stories, I look at your photos and watch your videos…etc, and I wait for my turn.
BONUS FEATURE: Reporter Camy Sorbello with GateHouse News Service was invited onto the rehearsal set to spend a day as a guest performer. This short clip documents her behind-the-scenes experience.
- A Mormon Spectacle, Way Off Broadway (nytimes.com)
- From Broadway To Politics, Mormons Take The Spotlight (13wham.com ABC news)