The clouds reached over the mountains, threatening clear sky above our heads, as we sat middle-center waiting for the Manti Miracle Pageant to begin. The sun went down, leaving a nightlight effect to our left, and the moon slowing fell behind clouds and reappeared. People in, on, and with blankets were sitting, laying, and racing up and down rows of metal 'picnic' chairs when the lights dim and an announcement was made that the Star Spangled Banner would be sung.
When the narrator started his introduction into the Joseph Smith story, I knew it was going to be a long night. The storyline, the visuals, and the acting was all very well done, I thought. The voices! Oh, the voices. The narrator's voice was one that i couldn't place at first. I knew I had heard it before, but where? When the depicted Angel Moroni appeared to the boy Joseph Smith and eerie music, coupled with the announcer's eerie voice told the story of his visitation, it hit me abruptly exactly where i had heard that voice before.
I kid you not, after all the auditioning, casting, and training, the pageant directors chose for a narrator, a man who sounded just like the "Twilight Zone" guy. Amid spurts of boyish giggling, there were plenty of opportunities throughout the pageant to compose myself and be uplifted.
The Pageant recounted the events of Joseph Smith's life, The Pioneers' trek and struggles, and the founding of the Lamanite and Nephite Nations (and their respective downfalls). The presentation was full of beautiful choreography that can only be enacted on a huge hill. Lamanite Warriors poured down the hill in droves attacking Nephite sentries. Fire spouted out of volcanoes as Lamanite (and later Nephite) citizens worshipped idols. Children raced up the hill between parents as Christ explained, "Bring forth your children, that I may bless them!" It looked like little streams of people were flowing up the hill between the land masses of adults. It just looked cool. Angelic choirs, dressed in white, sang from the temple walls. Spotlights would illuminate "still-life" representations (people who were standing still) as the narrator told their story. The best part of the evening came as the night approached. At any inspiring part of the presentation, one could look up and ponder while looking at the starts. There is a certain feeling that comes when you heard the words of the Gospel performed under the milky ways of the night sky. The atmosphere really made the performance. It didn't hurt one bit to have good company, whom you can turn and laugh or also contemplate with.
As lights dimmed and stories completed, I could almost hear the narrator saying,
"And we'll see you next time on...The Twilight Zone."