Every year in mid-July, Jesus descends from the heavens onto a hillside in bucolic western New York. Should they witness the nighttime scene, evangelical Protestants driving along U.S. Route 21 might worry that they have missed the rapture.
Instead, what they have missed is a uniquely American religious festival, concluding its 75th anniversary this weekend. In the Hill Cumorah Pageant, nearly a thousand members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bring to life the sacred history of their faith. The pageant takes place near Palmyra, the small town in which Joseph Smith Jr. published the Book of Mormon in 1830.
The Hill Cumorah Pageant is a very different sort of production from Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon.” The songs are not as snappy, and it’s not a comedy. On the other hand, the pageant is free, the seating is ample, and those who attend will learn a great deal more about the Mormon religion and culture.