2016 Bethlehem Experience Checklist

2016 Bethlehem Experience Checklist




REHEARSE EVERY DAY! FREQUENTLY TOGETHER & WITH STAND-INS. Rehearse daily even after you get thru your lines once with no mistakes. Guests will be thrilled to see our members in each playlet acting naturally in their roles. They’ll be less thrilled if they catch us reciting lines in a robotic, rapid-fire, ping-pong or hard-to-hear fashion. Guests will love to see acting and interacting–interacting with other actors, interacting with props, interacting with sets, etc. Guests will be impressed if we advance from line-reciting to knowing the intent and highlights of each scene and if we talk when it’s time to talk and when we pause all the lines and talking to act and think and do something scene-related and let each scene “breath.” For example, the father in the garage in Scene 7 could give line after line but if he falls into his chair or drops to his knees or paces the garage or puts his head on Jesus’ scars, all of those breaks let the audience see and feel and digest what’s happening versus being told via script lines what is happening. As another example, shepherds by a fire might be fiddling with skewers of cooking meat and taking more time delivering lines than a husband and wife arguing back and forth through a garage door. As another example, Mary in scene one might have longer, silent moments as she combs her hair or readies for bed.

Rapid-fire lines in many of these cases might seem artificial and turn off our tour groups. Rehearsing is our best tool for making each scene a success. To help with the above and making each scene as realistic as possible, actors should pull out a chair if a chair is in a scene or get a comb if they need to comb between lines. Where props aren’t available, do as Joseph and Mary did in that early practice where they found a makeshift prop to take the place of Baby Jesus. Rehearsing what to do with your feet, hands and more is just as critical as nailing your lines. Think of or watch a few youtubes or movies. Movies are movies because they are filled with moving. The right amount of it and breaks and actions between lines will help give our FRI tour groups an experience they’ll want to bring or tell others to see SAT.



When guests arrive, what’s their first impression? It should not be wandering around the Fellowship Hall, grabbing a cookie and pulling out a phone to avoid feeling awkward in a strange setting. Our MC needs to spring into action, greet guests handed off from Door Greeters, rev up guest excitement, get them keen to hear about the tour outside, clue them in on when the next tour leaves, tell them about refreshments/Santa/Crafts/Photos and things to do if a tour just left and they have a 30 min. wait til the next one. Finally, the MC has to have a strong presence and authority established from the start so he or she can stop everyone in line for snacks or with Santa or mid-Craft or Photo to get together and gather right on time to meet their tour guide and head out at their scheduled Tour time. MC, read on to learn more about what’s going on and how you can make everyone’s job easier by creating a fabulous first impression. IMPORTANT: You have lots of inside information that’d be tempting to share so don’t spill the beans on what’s to come.

NO SPOILERS! Let the performances, story and surprises unfold. For example, never say something like “In scene 1 an angel appears to Mary to tell her she’s pregnant with Baby Jesus.” Don’t be the guy or gal sitting next to you in the theater who’s seen the show before and ruins scene after scene with her impressive recollection of lines or surprises. It’d be far better to stick to the bare essentials to simply set the scene. For instance: “Our journey to Bethlehem starts over 2,000 years ago. As we venture outside, pretend all the blowing snow you see is drifting dessert sands. And look up. Can you imagine seeing and following a special star? Can you imagine spotting and following a Christmas Star thru the desert 2,000 years ago? Well, enjoy your journey! We’ll see you in about 30 minutes when you get back to 2016…”


Your guests will quickly rate your guidance and leadership and, like the MC, you will be part of the first impression for guests of Bethlehem. Is our tour late? Is guide prepared? Does guide know the journey? Is he or she ready to set the stage before each scene? Does he or she have a thought-provoking observation or question(s) after or while walking between scenes? Does the guide pause to address the group or sprint to the next scene and talk and walk while nobody catches the answer? Does the guide repeat the question louder for all to hear? Does the guide cap off questions till the end if they derail the tour? Does the guide know his group? Does the guide know all the names of his or her group by the end of the tour? Does the guide use a name or two from the group during the tour? Does the group know the guides name after the tour? Does the group jump on facebook or twitter and tell their 1,286 friends they need to go to Bethlehem SAT night and ask for XYZ to be their Tour Guide? Do people that know the story and those that don’t feel the Tour Guide did an equally great job. Does Tour Guide read the faces of their group and tailor their guidance when people may be bashful about getting a question answered in front of 20 strangers? Think of tours you may have been on. Some, like the captains of the boats on Disney’s Jungle Cruises, take Tour Guide roles and scripts to an art form. Disney Tour Guides show how a great guide can make or break a tour and how being an actor and staying in character can take even a somewhat hokey and fake cruise to very fun, exciting, entertaining and maybe even spiritual levels. REHEARSE being a great guide! And forecast frequently asked questions and how you will stay in character answering stray or difficult questions. For example, on tour #1 someone wants to talk or take photos during every scene. On tour #2, a Bible black-belt wants everyone to know he knows everything. On tour #3, a teen asks about Mary being pregnant to get a laugh from his buddies. On tour #4, a kid says she thinks her mom & dad are getting a divorce after Scene 7. On tour #5, an atheist challenges the content of every scene. On tour #6, a cellphone goes off and someone lags behind a scene to answer a text. On tour #7, someone says, “Nice job Shepherd X” (their friend). On tour #8, someone gripes, “It’s freezing out, is this almost over?” On tour #9, someone says that food smells good and asks the Shepherd if they can have a taste. On tour #10, a kid says, “MOM! I HAVE TO GO POTTY!!!” On tour #11, someone says, “I thought they didn’t actually go to an inn, but there was no space in the guest house of relatives they knew.” On tour #12, someone asks, “Why did they have to travel to take a census?” and “Were there really 3 kings?” and “Kings of what?” and “What’s Myrrh?” and “What does the Garage scene have to do with anything–that’s not in the story I thought we or our kids would see” and “What’s Lutheranism?” and…TOUR GUIDES, BE READY! REHEARSE! You may see more curves than the ones on the flat screen in the man cave in Scene 7!


Actor costumes appear done or near done. Pastor Jim is now in Scene 7. He could use a pristine white cubs jersey to fit the modern-day mancave scene. Debbie Newman got fabric for Scene 4 tent. Costume Team is working on creating Shepherd’s Tent “Costume” on existing tent. No other major costume work known at this time.

Costume team helping with props also!

• $0, $100, $1000, $3000? SETS=LUMBER/PAINT/SCREWS/GLUE/ETC.

Scene 1: $0 BUDGET: No room wall, use tent+props. APPROVED BUDGET: build/paint “L” wall for Mary’s room (3 stage flats C-clamped or lag-bolted together)
Scene 2: 2017
Scene 3: $0 BUDGET: No Inn, use tent+props. APPROVED BUDGET: build/paint “L” wall with door (3 flats+1 door flat)
Scene 4: Costume team dressing tent, angel on ladder behind tent, fire (permit didn’t list fire, DebbieN working to add), make 6’x3′ sheepfold from branches
Scene 5: Using red garage “stable”, hide contents with black drape, see if backdrop stored above banner inventory in BLC fits scene, see if fake animals (see DebbieN) are realistic–if so, make pen from branches
Scene 6: $0 BUDGET: Use nook, props. APPROVED BUDGET: build/paint “L” wall (3 clamped/bolted flats)
Scene 7: no building, just props: mancave chair for Joe (conf. rm chair or better “cubs” recliner from member), boxes to hide Jesus, flat screen TV with paused world series clip, other Cubs/mancave items

Five recruits for sets responded. PROPOSED owners (they may or may not be available to own, need to verify):
DebbieH (need to verify)–Lead S7 setup/props: Get boxes from Sam, Chair from conference room, TV from Mark. Set up Scene 7 with essentials. Work props congregation provides into scene (e.g., better recliner, full recycling bin to kick, craftsman tool chest, creeper, mini bar, motorcycle (Mark?), etc.). DebbieN was going to talk to DebbieH to see if she can own mancave.

Scott (need to verify)–Lead S5 setup/props: Get/hang drape (see DebbieN who knows fabric/deals) to create 3 internal “walls”, test existing backdrop, get manger/hay, test animals (fake? skip? realistic? enclose in crude branch pen)

Sam-If budget approved: build/paint 3 L-walls (S1, S3, S6), lead other set builders/prop makers/prop acquirers

Dan/Derek (need to verify): Help build props: Start with 2 branch (non-working ladders)

Sandy/JerryT: Help build props: Build 2 branch looms

That leaves:

Set0 • Welcome!: Recruit Dickens Luncheon Team to repeat luncheon decorations DEC9/10

Set8 • Santa/Tree: Recruit DEC18 Christmas Concert Team to decorate a Christmas Tree in Sunday School room, move a chair from 8AM worship down for Santa, wrap some fake gifts, add other decorations like you might find at a mall-Santa setup (optional), decorate a table for Tree Donation Monitors to sit, field FISH questions, help if a line forms by Santa, hide goodie bags or gifts (books, limited quantity)

Set9 • Photos: Planned photog canceled. SamT to ask ChrisI and others if they can work DEC9/10. Photog will need room for lights/umbrellas/table/assistant. Colocate with Santa? NOT photos with Santa (Santa Selfies are OK)! Photos with Bethlehem Experience actors, plain backdrop (SamT), ferns (Sandy?), actors not outside on set (or lookalikes in costumes if they can’t leave sets), lamb/goat, props? Recruited photog should own, get help from DebbieN, SamT.

Set10 • Crafts: KarenL said she’d provide crafts. Need to ID room, props, etc. Colocate with Santa? Better room or space?

Additional Set details are itemized HERE.



Additional Prop details are itemized HERE.


S0 WELCOME!: Christmas Trees with white lights. SFX: Christmas CD (Bethlehem Tracks, not Santa tracks). 2017 (or 2016?) TVs with Bethlehem video loop
S1 MARY: Oil lamp (working or fake) on low table. “Halloween” flicker lamp behind oil lamp. Dim side light behind prop chest or wardrobe. SFX: CD player with light stable sounds loop. Long extension cord to BLC south door. Safety cone to avoid actors/guests tripping over cord, unplugging scene lights.
S3 INN: light behind inn wall, shining thru door crack on Mary & Joseph
S4 FIRE: real fire light for Shepherds. “Blinding” angel light perched over tent. Operated by Angel on ladder. Need switch or plug into long extension cord from BLC or S1. SFX: sheep track, CD player behind tent/sheepfold fence.
S5 MANGER: Spot light, high, stage right, trained on manger (stage left), outlet exists stage right, clamp or bolt light to existing rafters. Second light, low, stage left, trained on actor faces, angled to appear like light is coming from Baby Jesus’ manger, no outlet so use extension cord fed behind scene/drape or replace light bulb stage left with screw in outlet socket since bulb’s not needed. SFX: 2 CD players, rear, stage left & stage right, playing alternating/overlapping stable animal sound tracks that compliment and don’t compete with actors to give illusion of stable animals in the dark.
S6 GIFTS: Low uplight stage right behind chest prop, medium extension cord to nook outlet behind stage flats/wall. High downlight stage left, clamp to board extending from top of “L” wall, medium extension cord elevated so Joseph and Wise Men walk under lamp/cord & avoid tripping, tipping wall over
S7 2016 MANCAVE: yellow stand shop light pair stage right (pair in case 1 fails), flat screen TV paused on cubs game stage left, “blinding” light behind boxes turned on for a flash to help hide Jesus’ entrance/exit behind boxes, lava lamp on mini bar if member has one, bar lights on walls if members can provide. SFX: Loud Cubs game until operator (Heidi?) pauses TV at scene start or when Joe pauses on fake remote after he kicks recycling bin and plops in mancave Cubs recliner.
S8 SANTA: Lit Christmas Tree (again no photos/lights–we want Bethlehem Experience photos shared, not mall Santa vibe shared). SFX: CD Player+Santa track
S9 PHOTOS: Photog supplies umbrellas, softboxes, lights. SFX: CD Player+Bethlehem track
S10 CRAFTS: Existing lights. Could add fun LED cord lights, dwarf/lit Christmas Trees, etc. SFX: CD Player+Bethlehem track

Additional Light/SFX details are itemized HERE.



WHEN: Our first annual Bethlehem Experience is scheduled for 5-8PM, DEC 9 & 10, 2016. The event will be Friday and Saturday evening and Bethlehem actors will perform playlets that bring the life and times of Jesus to life for visitors to our Bethlehem.

WHAT: Members from Bethlehem act out key scenes from when Jesus was born. The first scenes treat travelers to young Mary’s Room, the Innkeeper with no room, Shepherds gathered around a fire, a Stable with the Manger, Wise Men bearing gifts and then a modern-day twist. The last playlet fast forwards each tour to 2016 and visits a family with what sounds like a loud celebration. What is going on in the garage across the way from Bethlehem? It could be intense and parents with young children can journey to 2016 or take the youngsters straight to Santa. Either way, after the guided outdoor tour, each group will return to Bethlehem to enjoy some drinks and snacks in our Fellowship Hall. After their 2,000-year journey they might be a little hungry & thirsty.

Guests who check out our Sunday School room after the tour will find jolly old Saint Nick for the little ones returning with news of the Christmas Star. Santa will have an apropos gift for those who hopefully enjoyed learning a little more about Bethlehem and the Christ in Christmas. Sunday School leaders will have a little craft or two for the little ones anxious to put their hands and brains to work making something that dovetails with the times they just witnessed on the tour. Next to Santa will be our Giving Tree for any optional FISH donations visitors may bring. Guests can also get a free, keepsake photo to remember the evening and selfies of course are welcomed any time before or after (but not during) the tour. Remember to hashtag: #bethlehemdundee


“There were NO CELLPHONES or SELFIES 2,000 years ago. There were lots of TWEETS…but only FROM BIRDS. We’ll have a hard time following the Bethlehem Star with FLASHES going off. When we find Bethlehem, I’ll give you a thumbs up. Then you can TWEET LIKE A BIRD, or SNAP like a chat or whatev! Remember to HASHTAG!… #bethlehemdundee, like THE SIGNS say AFTER the Tour! [points to sign]”

SCENES: These are the scenes (aka sets or stops) planned for 2016:





Dickens Living Window
FRI DEC2 • 5:30-8PM

His Star cometh
3 Wise Men, 2 Shepherds
Lamb, Goat or Prop
Publicity Cards


Dickens Breakfast
SAT DEC3 • 7:30-NOON
VFW Post • 117 S 1ST

2 Shepherds
Lamb, Goat or Prop
Publicity Cards


Dickens Santa Breakfast
SAT DEC3 • 8:30-11:30AM
Randall Oaks GC

2 Shepherds
Lamb, Goat or Prop
Publicity Cards


Dickens Petting Zoo
Graffelman Park

2 Shepherds
Lamb, Goat or Prop
Publicity Cards


Dickens Spirit of
Christmas Parade
SAT DEC3 • 9:30AM
Main Street

2 Shepherds
Lamb, Goat or Prop
Publicity Cards


Dickens Bethlehem Luncheon
Dickens of a Christmas Sale
SAT DEC3 • 8:30-4PM
Bethlehem Lutheran

Journey to Bethlehem
6 Shepherds
2@8:30-11:30 • 2@11-2PM • 2@1:30-4
Lamb, Goat or Prop


Welcome to Bethlehem

Behold The Christmas Star


An Angel Visits Mary

Don’t be afraid


Future Scene

Planned for 2017


No Room at the Inn

Laid in a manger


Shepherds Hear the Good News

The first to hear…


Behold Your Savior

…and first to hold


Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh

Gifts for the King


Jesus is Grace, Forgiveness and Love

2016: Will they see Christmas?


Celebrate with Santa

Food pantry donations welcome


Group Photos

Bring fam & friends!


Christmas Crafts

Get craftsy kids!

NOV10 Screen Shot • Click dickensindundee.org for Current Schedule

DEC2-3 SCENES: Dickens in Dundee is the week before our event. Having pairs of our many shepherds at Dickens will help publicize our event to people demonstrating interest in Christmas events. These “Scenes” are not in our original script but they fit well with our production. Click dickensindundee.org for an up-to-date line up with times, locations, etc. There are many we events we could attend, but these look like the best ones to start with:

SCENE A1 • LIVING WINDOW: Dickens visitors will see our 3 Wise Men prepping for or on they journey to Bethlehem in the Living Window. Outside will be 2 or 3 Shepherds. Everyone will stay in character like other Living Windows. Shepherds will speak of the journey to Bethlehem DEC9 & 10, 5-8PM. Shepherds will put handouts in hands and publicize our event and be prepped to answer questions and not give spoilers on any playlets.

SCENE A2 • VFW BREAKFAST: 2 Shepherds will also publicize our event at VFW Post on 1st St, putting handouts in hands.

SCENE A3 • SANTA BREAKFAST: 2 Shepherds will also publicize our event at Breakfast with Santa at Randall Oaks Golf Course, putting handouts in hands.

SCENE A4 • PETTING ZOO: 2 Shepherds will also publicize our event at Grafelman Park Petting Zoo, putting handouts in hands. Extra Shepherds or Wise Men should attend this publicity event. Why? Shepherds go great with the animals and Shepherds and Kings can point to Bethlehem across the street and easily and naturally mention their journey and following the Christmas Star or Lighted Cross to Bethlehem the following FRI/SAT.

SCENE A5 • SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PARADE: We are applying to also publicize our event at the Dickens Parade. Float, actors, etc. are TBA. Goal again is putting handouts in hands and, again, we can point to Bethlehem since it is right on the parade route.

SCENE A6+ • OTHERS?: Actors permitting, we should consider attending as many of the other Dickens events as possible, putting handouts in hands. Examples of other events where our presence is worthwhile include: TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY, POLAR EXPRESS CELEBRATION, FEZZIWIG’S FAMILY FEST, FESTIVAL OF TREES, WINTER WONDERLAND TENT and MORE.

SCENE B • BETHLEHEM LUNCHEON/SALES: 3 pairs of Shepherds (6) will also publicize our event in 3 shifts at our luncheon (aka BETHLEHEM KITCHEN), Dickens of a Christmas Sale and Bake Sale (not listed, but assume there will be one like past years). Shepherds will put handouts in hands. Cards will also be at Greeters’ Table, Sales and Luncheon Tables.

Our Dickens presence, signs, website, radio spots, handout cards and more should trigger new visitors to the new Bethlehem Experience the week following Dickens. Bethlehem Volunteers have been rehearsing, publicizing, designing costumes, sets, menus and more for a year. Work will ramp up to finalize everything in NOV including live rehearsals before the congregation and final adjustments based on feedback.

DEC9-10 SCENES: If people like what they saw and heard from our Shepherds and Wise Men in our Living Window, at the Petting Zoo across the street, at the Parade passing Bethlehem and more, then we may see them again at our Bethlehem Experience FRI/SAT DEC 9 & 10 for tours between 5 and 8PM.

GUEST PARKING/SAFETY: Special angle parking has been requested on 4th, Oregon & 5th streets. Attendants will assist with parking. Parked cars angle away from our tour to minimize headlight and noise interference with our tours and scenes. Handicap parking is TBD but may be located on the northwest side of the church to facilitate access to the elevator. If handicap parking utilizes these existing spots, headlights could face tour groups and interfere momentarily during S4, S5 and S6. Since S7 is a modern-day scene in a garage, headlights in the “alley” would be seen as a realistic prop. Attendants and Tour Guides must take great care to ensure that cars parking in handicap spots do not pose a safety risk for visitors taking a tour. Safety comes first. Tour interference takes a backseat to safety at all times. Tour Guides will work with Parking Attendants to coordinate car and guest movements to maximize safety. Tour Guides may even ask a scene to be postponed, suspended, resumed or restarted should any car present a concern or spoil a scene. Given 35 MPH traffic on Route 72, Parking Attendants will have a tricky job directing non-handicap cars to 4th Street (one-way/southbound for our event) and directing only handicap traffic into the drive between 4th and 5th Streets. This tentative plan is subject to change based on Village approval or plan changes. Tour Guides and Parking Attendants should consult with Parking Coordinator prior to guest arrival to understand and enforce the final Parking Plan.

SCENE 0 • WELCOME! • FELLOWSHIP HALL: Door Greeters will welcome and direct guests to our Fellowship Hall. A Master of Ceremonies will help organize tour groups and follow the tour schedule (5-8PM, tours at 5, 5:30, 6, etc.). MC will greet everyone, introduce himself, make small talk (“Thanks for coming!”…”How did you hear about Bethlehem?”…), keep a count of tour group size, let guests know their tour time (“The next tour is at 6. We’ll make an announcement at 5:55. Until then…”), and handoff guests to free Minglers (“…I’d like you to meet XYZ who sings in our band or ABC who sings in our choir or PDQ who went on a mission to Romania this year or chaperoned the youth to New Orleans or DEF who helped sew and send out 200 stockings to soldiers or knit 200 hats for newborns…). If no Minglers are free, MC can direct guests to refreshments, point out restrooms, mention Santa/Tree/FISH or Photos (“…Nice to meet you. We’ll talk again soon [MC looks at watch]–in 12 minutes!”). At 5 minutes before tour, MC gathers next group and introduces Tour Guide. Tour Guide gives quick intro/tour guidelines and sets out up the stairs for outside. STRESS SAFETY!

SCENE 0 • SET/PROPS: The Dickens in Dundee Luncheon Team will have already set up the Fellowship Hall for the SAT DEC3 Luncheon. This same setup should be used, but it should be consistent with the tour. As one example, rows of tall, thin Christmas Trees which have been used for decorations in the past are apropos. White lights and simple decorations would be more appropriate than rainbow-colored tree lights, plastic ornaments, etc. Ambient music such as O Little Star of Bethlehem would be more fitting than Here Comes Santa Claus or Rock ‘n Roll Christmas.

After greetings, refreshments, mingling and introductions in S0, groups will be led by Tour Guides upstairs and outside. Tours will exit thru the east door. In about 25-30 minutes they will return thru the west (elevator) door. MC will need to keep tabs on delayed tours and inform new arrivals accordingly (“Next tour leaves at 6:05…”). Visitors shouldn’t be forced to jump on the next Tour. For example, if the next one leaves in 5 minutes, they should get a choice of joining it or mingling, snacking, doing crafts, etc. until the following tour.

OUTDOOR SCENES: Once outside, the outdoor Tour will start, following the sidewalk to the drive to the red garage to the west nook to the yellow garage and finally back to the west/elevator door.

The Bethlehem Experience script consists of Scene 1 thru 7. Each scene is numbered, S1 thru S7. S2 was removed for 2016 but scenes weren’t renumbered because we don’t want any chance of confusion at which S3 or S4 we mean.

The outdoor sequence of scenes are short, live playlets. Each is a few minutes in length. The total outdoor tour will be approximately 30 minutes. Tours will exit Bethlehem thru the east door and follow the sidewalk to S1, S3, and S4. S5 will be in the red garage, S6 will be on the west wall of the church and S7 will be in the yellow garage.

S1-S6 are based on the Bible and from Jesus’ time. For S7, we leave Jesus’ Bethlehem and our journey takes us to Bethlehem Dundee. Tours will have Jesus’ story fresh in their mind as they visit a 2016 family.

S7 OPTIONAL: Parents with young children will have the option to return to Bethlehem after S6 and skip S7 which could be too intense for them.

The Master of Ceremonies and Tour Guides should stay in character and explain this option at least three times: once during the MC WELCOME, once during the TOUR GUIDE INTRO and finally again after lights out on S6. Door D8 which leads to S8 is right next to S6.

Scene or Stop 8 and 9 are Santa & Photo stops. There is no written script for either for 2016. Santa will ad lib and have a special gift for young children highlighting the same scenes from the Bethlehem story they just journeyed through. A Christmas Tree will be near Santa for optional FISH Food Pantry donations. There will NOT be photos with Santa. We do not want a mall Santa vibe. We also do NOT want a pushy or non-Santa Santa vibe. The Tour Guide will tip children off to tell Santa that they saw the Christmas Star. Knowing Santa has a gift for them if they mention it should trigger some to mention it. Santa has the same gift for them either way. Santa should be the Santa kids expect and talk like and ask questions like children would expect of Santa (“What is your name? And what are you wishing for for Christmas Suzy?”). Santa should be fun and friendly and normal (not “A doll? Forget the doll and wish for world peace!”) and not off-putting or possessing any agenda.

Although we are NOT doing photos with a mall Santa, many guests will have cellphones and may want to take a selfie, send a tweet or snapchat, post on instagram or facebook or add our event to their 1-second-a-day video. All of the above are OK and encouraged. Encourage hashtagging: #bethlehemdundee

SCENE 8 • SANTA SET Santa will be in the Sunday School room. He’ll need a Christmas Tree and Santa Chair at a minimum. The Tree should be primed with a few wrapped presents underneath. Guests with donations can add their “gifts” next to those. Tree Monitors will oversee and must be prepared to answer any questions about FISH and secure and inventory donations during and at the close of the event each evening. They should also lead the handoff to FISH via delivery or pickup.

SCENE 8 GIFT • WHEN JESUS WAS BORN BOOK: Children’s books will be handed out by Santa to young children. Limited quantities are available so gifts should NOT be identified in publicity materials lest we run out and a guests shows us a handout card or refers to a radio ad. Gifts are a surprise. A PR team member is being sought to design and apply durable, quality stickers to the back of each of the 200+ books. Stickers may have a brief message, church address, phone, website, etc. and must be carefully and professionally applied. Some families will look to the book to contact or attend Bethlehem via the phone number, website, etc. Please take a minute to read the gift book. It’s short but should help actors, guides, set/costume designers, etc. Here are thumbnails so you know what book to find & read (click to enlarge):

SCENE 9 • GROUP PHOTOS: Photos of visitors is planned but the booked photographer canceled. We’re contacting a list of replacements. Photos will NOT be taken of Santa. The plan is to take guest photos near Santa if possible–depends on photographer, backdrop, props, portrait lights, space requirements, etc. The availability of actors for photos is still being examined but ideally visitors will be treated to high-quality photos of their group with select actors from the performance they just enjoyed. Ideally the backdrop, set/props and costumed-actors will be a nice keepsake from the experience. If an animal such as a lamb, sheep or goat becomes available or larger animals like a donkey or camel is loaned or rented to Bethlehem, they should be included in the photos. Visitors will be far more likely to share and hashtag a photo of themselves or their group on social media petting a lamb or holding the reigns on a donkey in front of a quality set with costumed actors.

Visitors who’d like a digital copy of the photo will be able to jot down their email so we can send it to them (preferred). Visitors who balk at or don’t do email should be told that they will also be able to enjoy their photos along with the others on our bethlehemdundee.org News page. Our S9 signage and email sign-up sheet and staff should all communicate where photos will appear prior to taking any photos of guests.

SCENE 7 TOUR TIP: Tour Guides should examine the make-up of their group during intro at S0. Any young children? If so, come the end of the tour, the Tour Guide needs to talk up S7 with a strong teaser while at the same time allowing families with young kids to end their outdoor tour at about 22 minutes so the kids can see Santa and save the intensity of the last scene included for older visitors. S7 will be more relevant to young children when they return in future years.

SCENE 7 • SCRIPT REWRITES: For 2016, S7 set highlights the Cubs World Series win. Future years may feature Hawks, Bulls or Sox wins or other current events that will keep visitors coming back knowing there will be fresh storylines each year. Every year visitors will be treated to an up-to-date S7 where they see Bethlehem is nimble and plugged into the lives they lead every day and things that are important to them.

SCENE 1-6 • CREATIVE RETELLINGS: S1-S6 may remain the same year-to-year or they might also bring fresh surprises year-to-year. Imagine a 2017 Mary texting and snapchatting and in 3D glasses watching her blue-ray video on her 3D TV. Suddenly the TV goes haywire and she’s visited by an angel with some news. With a modern-day rewrite, a 2,000-year-old story could become very relatable to visitors to our Bethlehem and keep people coming back year after year. If they know it’s identical year after year, they may figure they’ve seen it already and only visit us once.

Although the script may be adapted every year, the last outdoor scene should be dramatic, spiritual, thought-provoking and more. If it contains adult topics or intensity, S7 may always be optional for youngsters who will naturally have a shorter attention span and an itch to see Santa.

SCENE 7 OR 8? TOUR TIPS: The Tour Guide has a delicate job to do at the fork between S7 and S8. He needs to finish the tour without distraction for probably 80 to 100% of his group. He also has to encourage all but the youngest to finish the tour and not cave into temptations and head downstairs for soda, snacks, Santa and selfies. Ideas…


It was over 2,000 YEARS AGO that the shepherds and wise men followed the Bethlehem Star and MET JESUS. The SHEPHERDS were OVERJOYED seeing the newborn Baby. The WISE MEN were OVERJOYED to see the young Jesus as well. NOT EVERYONE was thrilled though–LIKE KING HEROD.

Did HEROD CELEBRATE and BRING GIFTS? Far from it! Herod ORDERED all young BOYS Jesus’ age BE ELIMINATED. He eliminated OLDER BOYS TOO, “just TO BE SAFE!”

Can you IMAGINE that? It’s 2016 and we just picked a PRESIDENT. Can you imagine him PICKING HIMSELF and doing away with anyone in his way? Can you imagine our president GETTING RID of ALL the young boys to ensure that he got rid of the ONE he was after?

Can you imagine getting YOUR CAMEL ready, picking out GIFTS and TRAVELING so FAR in the DESERT to see a little BABY you hope to FIND? Can you imagine wondering IF THE PRESIDENT got to him first? CAN. YOU. IMAGINE???

Can you imagine making THAT TRIP, WONDERING and the RELIEF & JOY of finding Jesus…ALIVE? Where would you get the CAMEL? Or GOLD? Or MYRRH? What would you SAY? What would you DO?

WELL. While you think about all that… Our journey brings us to our LAST STOP. We’re back in 2016 NOW. WHOA! GAME 7!? Did you HEAR THAT? I think I heard a LOUD CUBS FAN in his little decked-out MAN CAVE across the street from BETHLEHEM. Is he WITNESSING a VICTORY? Is he FLYING the W yet? And it’s ALMOST CHRISTMAS! He’s got a lot to CELEBRATE! Why don’t we take a sec to see what ALL THAT RACKET’S about! SOUNDS INTENSE!!!

If you have YOUNG CHILDREN that want to say hi to SANTA NOW, feel free to take them DOWNSTAIRS [point down and to the right–Santa’s in Sunday School room]. We’ll make a QUICK STOP at that CELEBRATION next door. And KIDS!…be sure to TELL SANTA about the CHRISTMAS STAR. You little ones have been great! SANTA MIGHT have a little CHRISTMAS STAR gift for you CHRISTMAS STARS!”

MERRY CHRISTMAS! YOUNG BOYS AND GIRLS, we’ll be right behind you and down to say “hi” to SANTA too–and take a SELFIE…


[a beat]

To the MAN CAVE…





Click map to enlarge in new tab.

PARKING: PLAN (Need confirmation on permits, lines, signs, etc.): Parking attendants direct guests to 4th, Oregon & 5th Street angled parking. Handicapped parking TBA. Attendants direct guests to east door (D0).

TOUR FLOW/GUEST DOORS: Door Greeters direct guests down to S0/WELCOME! in Fellowship Hall. MC Greets incoming guests, gives welcome, next-tour times, etc. MC announces “Next Tour!,” gathers tour, introduces Tour Guide. Tour departs back thru D0. Guide stops first at S0/MARY and continues around block to S3/INN and up drive to S4/FIRE, S5/MANGER and S6/GIFTS. Guide gives S7/GARAGE teaser and option for youngsters to skip S7 and go downstairs thru elevator door (D8) to S8/SANTA.

ACTOR/OPERATOR DOOR: ACTORS and set operators only use south door, D6. Actor Supervisor directs Actors when to a) be on set (be early! guests can never see actors running to set!), b) be warming inside thru D6 and c) be downstairs for photos (again, lookalikes may be needed if c is not possible).

D6 is where Wise Men wait until Joseph goes for walk and runs into them for S6/GIFTS.

D6 is where extension cords feed S1/MARY & S3/INN. Red Garage feeds S5/Manger and S4/FIRE (see orange extension cords on map).

S0-S7 STOPS: Black arrows show tour flow. Stops are labeled S1, S3, etc. Red and Yellow Garage are labeled S5 and S7. Tours stop in front of garages, not inside.

GARAGE STOPS: S7/GARAGE is also YELLOW GARAGE, FAMILY 2016 or MANCAVE. S7/FAMILY can be intense for young children. For them, S1-S6 is more appropriate but Tour Guide and MC should prep group 2x for option to end tour after S6/Gifts. If Tour Guide sees young kids on tour still at S6, guide gives S7 teaser and also option for littles to go straight to S8/SANTA. Goal: get all but young kids to S7 and then to S8, etc.

CORDS/SAFETY: S1-S7 will have outdoor lights or lights in the garages. Tours/cars should never cross electrical cords, extension cords or be near lights, stands, etc. Same for actors. Light and Sound Effects (SFX) Operators may be Actors (e.g., Angels on S1 & S4) or Operators behind the set walls/drapes or offset like Mary in S7/FAMILY 2016 who is not seen but can see scene and know when to hit play/pause on TV, hit on/off on “blinding” light, hit off on set lights, etc.

LOT LIGHTS: Lights/coverage are on map. Bright parking lot light near S7 will likely remain on and light paths from S4 to S5 to S6 to S7. The light will help avoid tour groups tripping over the cement divider between the drive and big lot. The big lot should NOT be used if possible since guests parking, attendants, guest walking thru active tours, headlights, etc. all will spoil active tours, give spoilers to upcoming tours and add significant risk of accidents as people and cars mix while people are trying to watch our playlets.

If existing S7 light proves too much, flashlight can be strapped to sensor to trigger it off. (thx Scott!)

PATH LIGHTS: Luminaries may be placed and spaced near the walk by the 4th/Oregon intersection since a night site survey shows it is not well reached by existing lights (thx Audrey!).

TOURS ON WALKS/DRIVES ONLY! Tours will stay 100% on shoveled sidewalks and drives. Mats need to be at D0, D6 and D8 to avoid guests/actors slipping at entrances and on stairs.

DEC2/3 DICKENS PUBLICITY: Prior to DEC9/10, costumed actors will publicize event on DEC2/3 at Dickens in Dundee. Map shows SA as one block but it represents multiple offsite Dickens events such as Living Window, Petting Zoo, VFW Breakfast, Santa Breakfast, Parade, etc. Actors fit many of these Dickens events and can hand out cards. Bethlehem is listed on the Dickens website as a sponsor. We should still apply for Parade and work with Dickens to make sure our presence is welcome at DEC2/3 events. For example, they should not mind but actually welcome Shepherds near they Petting Zoo in Grafelman Park but we should always check before piggybacking on others’ events. We should also show any cards we plan to hand out and seek approval before doing so. The more Dickens/SA events we attend, the more we can expect to attend our DEC9/10 event.

DEC2/3 BLC LUNCHEON/SALES PUBLICITY: SB/LUNCHEON is also a Dickens event. It’s labeled SB/LUNCHEON and shown in our BLC Fellowship Hall on the map. SB/LUNCHEON is DEC3 and S0/WELCOME! is DEC9/10. Christmas Trees/Decorations should be reused. Actors should be present at SB/LUNCHEON and BAKERY/DICKENS OF A SALES. 3 Pairs of Shepherds is proposed for 3 SB Shifts.


EdD owns. Status?



PastorJ owns recruiting/scheduling DEC9/10, 5-8PM, script, outdoor/indoor rotation, handoffs to MC, etc.



PastorJ moved to S7. Need script/rehearsed/polished Master of Ceremonies.




Who has documented plan?

PROPOSAL: S4/FIRE has smells of Shepherds cooking meat on skewers. Can kitchen serve “Shepherd Skewers?” with signs in front of special items?



[ ] Comb (DebbieN?)
[ ] Bedroll (SandyT? DebbieN?)
√ Low Table (SamT)
√ Mary’s Cloak (DebbieN)
√ Worn Chest (or Wardrobe) (stage right, create 3rd “wall” and hide light)
√ Small Box on Low Table (SamT)
√ Wall Weights (SamT)
√ Wall C-clamps/Woodworking Clamps (SamT)
√ Clay Water Jug (SandyM? KarenL? DebbieN?)
√ Wood Bowl for Veggies/Herbs(DebbieN)
[ ] Plain Root Vegetables, Herb Sprigs for Wood Bowl (SandyT?)
[ ] Plywood sheet or garage mats for Mary if snow (SandyT?)

[ ] Ladder from Branches/Twine (Dan/Derek?)
[ ] Loom from Branches/Twine/Yarn (SandyT)
[ ] Mary’s Room Wall, Cloak Hook, Window (SamT)

LIGHTS (MarkR, DonJr., DonSr., SamT, Members?):
[ ] Oil Lamp
[ ] Halloween flickering light
[ ] Soft Warm Outdoor Spotlight for Mary behind Chest
[ ] Strong White Outdoor Spotlight behind Chest for Angel
[ ] (Dimmer?) Switches to bring up and down Mary/Oil Lamp lights
[ ] Backup Lights

SOUND (MarkR, SamT, Members?):
[ ] CD Player (Member?)
[ ] 1 Backup CD Player (Member?) (for all Scenes in case one dies)
[ ] Soundtrack: Light Stable Animals Sounds (Members? Library? Web?)

[ ] Long Grounded, Outdoor Extension Cords for 6 Devices (3 Lights, CD Player, cord to S3, Spare)

[ ] Chair/Stand for Operator, CD Player/Light Controls
1. Turn CD on
2. Turn Oil/Mary Lights up (dimmer)
3. Turn Angel Light up (no dimmer)
4. Turn Angel Lights down
5. Fade to Black




[ ] Hitching Post (Dan/Derek? Time Permitting)
√ Ladder, Resting Horizontally against Inn (SamT)
√ Walking Stick for Joseph (SamT)
√ Wall Weights (SamT)
√ Wall C-clamps/Woodworking Clamps (Members?)
√ 2 Clay Water Jugs, Small, Large (SandyM? KarenL? DebbieN?)
√ Fern (SandyM?)
√ Baskets (DebbieN)

[ ] Inn Wall, Door (SamT)

[ ] Hitching Post 4’x4′, Self Standing, Rope (Dan/Dereck?)

LIGHTS (MarkR, DonJr., DonSr., SamT, Members?):
[ ] Inn Light (Behind wall stage right, shining thru door at Mary/Joseph)
[ ] Switch to bring up and down Inn Light
[ ] Backup Light

SOUND (MarkR, SamT, Members?):
[ ] CD Player (Member?)
[ ] Soundtrack: Light Stable Animals Sounds, Donkey Sounds, Light Inn Ruckus (Members? Library? Web?)

[ ] Long Grounded, Outdoor Extension Cords for 4 Devices (1 Lights, 1 Backup Light, CD Player, Spare)

[ ] Chair/Stand for Operator, CD Player/Light Controls
1. Turn CD on
2. Turn Lights on…
3. Fade to Black





[ ] Fire Permit (DebbieN)
[ ] Shepherd Staffs, Realistic (______?)
[ ] 10 Meat Skewers/Ice/Cooler to last 3 Hours, Shepherds Turn during S4 (______?)
√ Spit? (DebbieN)
√ Angel Ladder, Sturdy/Big Giant (SamT)
√ Firewood behind Tent(JerryT)
√ Firestick Bundles by Fire, Shepherds add during S4, No Leaves (JerryT)
√ Wall C-clamps/Woodworking Clamps (Members?)
√ 2 Small Tentside Ferns (SandyM?)
√ 3 Baskets (DebbieN)

[ ] Shepherd’s Tent (DebbieN)
[ ] Fire pit from grill base or commercial fire pit base if permit problems

LIGHTS (MarkR, DonJr., DonSr., SamT, Members?):
[ ] Fire Light
[ ] Backup Light if Fire Light inadequate
[ ] “Blinding” Angel Light on Stand Above Tent, Trained on Tour Faces, Allows Angel to Appear

SOUND (MarkR, SamT, Members?):
[ ] CD Player (Member?)
[ ] Soundtrack TRACK1: Light Stable Animals Sounds, Donkey Sounds (Members? Library? Web?)
[ ] PA+FX+Soundtrack TRACK2: Choir of Angels to Accompany Angel Looming on Ladder (Time Permitting)

[ ] Long Grounded, Outdoor Extension Cords for 4 Devices (1 Blinding Light, 1 CD Player, 2 Spare)

OPERATOR (Scott?):
[ ] Chair/Stand for Operator behind Tent, CD Player/Light Controls
1. Turn CD on TRACK1/Animals
2. Turn Blinding Light on & FFWD to TRACK2/Angel Choir
3. Turn off Blinding Light
4. RWD to TRACK1/Animals