PACE — Once again the Panhandle Community Theatre plans to feature the classic tale of the rough-and-tumble Herdman kids acting in a Christmas pageant, even though they know nothing about the story of the birth of Christ.

This is the fourth time in 14 years that the non-profit theatre in Pace — the only community theatre in Santa Rosa County — has featured the play written by Barbara Robinson known as “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” said Director Sylvia Love.

Love uses words like underprivileged, neglected, scrappy and ruffians to describe the children who the church community, including the pastor, believe will wreck the annual Christmas play. The only reason the Herdmans want to participate is because they learn the church feeds the cast every practice.

“However, they end up making a big transition,” Love said. “At the end, the church people are amazed at how it went. That’s because it’s so different. Different kids, different director.”

The shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5-7 and Dec. 12-14 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 at 4646 Woodbine Road in Pace. All tickets are $10 and can be bought by calling 850-221-7599 or going online to

PCT is also accepting donations of wrapped toys. Additionally, it plans to hold a raffle that will be drawn after the Dec. 15 matinee.

Both adults and children make up the roughly 40-person cast.

Jocee Sevilla, a 20-year-old studying psychology at Pensacola State College, said she’s excited about being in the play as the narrator.

“This is a dream come true,” she said. “I love the story. The Herdmans don’t know much about the Bible or how Jesus was born.”

Andrea Love plays Imogene Herdman, along with Mikayla Walker. Imogene is Mary in the church play. Andrea said she likes the part.

“I get to be bossy and sassy,” the 13-year-old said. “I get to be loud and controlling, too. I really enjoy it a lot.”

Another strong performer is 7-year-old Emma Hobbs, who plays Gladys Herdman who is the Angel of the Lord in the play she refers to as “The Revenge of Bethlehem” in one of her lines.

“She is one of the real strong actors in the group,” said Love, who is directing the play for the third time. “After I retired as a nurse practitioner I auditioned for a show and got the part. I’ve really gotten involved in being part of this ever since.”