Palmyra, NY (October 27, 2018) –The famed Hill Cumorah Pageant will cease production after its 2020 season.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on Oct. 27, 2018 the end or modification of several pageants produced by the Church, including its flagship pageant in Palmyra. Mindful of a growing, world-wide church, Church leadership made the decision after an extensive review of all pageants. Leaders said they took under consideration how to reduce the burden of church member time commitments, cost, security, impact to church sites and more in their decision.
According to the Church’s official release, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing across the earth. As this occurs, local Church leaders and members are encouraged to focus on gospel learning in their homes and to participate in Sabbath worship and the Church’s supporting programs for children, youth, individuals and families. The goal of every activity in the Church should be to increase faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to share His gospel message throughout the world. Local celebrations of culture and history may be appropriate. Larger productions, such as pageants, are discouraged. As it relates to existing pageants, conversations with local Church and community leaders are underway to appropriately end, modify or continue these productions.”
Pageant President Neil Pitts said the staff of the Hill Cumorah Pageant is supportive of the decision.
“We had a wonderful run,” Pitts said. “Our church has asked us to focus more on the family, and this is certainly in line with that desire. We have had a wonderful 81 years and will focus on making the next two years an amazing experience for our cast, crew and audience.”
Pitts said right now, the focus of pageant officials is to communicate with regional and community partners and the pageant staff most affected by the announcement.
“We are sensitive to the fact that this will affect our wonderful community partners,” Pitts said. “We have been blessed by exceptional relationships with our friends in Manchester and Palmyra. We thank those communities for their years of generous support, and we will continue to work with them on future endeavors.”
The Hill Cumorah Pageant is staged annually in Manchester, NY by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its 81st season wrapped in July 2018 with around 25,000 people attending the pageant. The 2019 season opens Thurs., July 11.
The production started as a humble reenactment of the Book of Mormon and Bible by local missionaries on makeshift stages lit by car headlamps. It has grown to be the largest outdoor theatrical event in North America and is a Western New York tradition attended by more than visitors from around the world. An all-volunteer cast of about 750 and 150 staff and technical crew work to stage the production annually. Local service groups in the Palmyra and Manchester areas provide concessions during the pageant, and it serves as those groups’ largest fund-raiser.