Blue Nativity, Quest Theatre Ensemble. If nothing else, this 30-minute mini pageant gets credit for being the only one of some 35 seasonal shows here to actually feature the birth of Christ. Against a simple backdrop of blue fabric--portable, to accommodate Quest Theatre's travels to churches all over Chicagoland and Indiana--ten performers reenact highlights of the Nativity with oversize puppets, some 12 feet tall, most with reverent faces carved from blue papier-mache moons. The simple narration--a chain of hymns and love songs sung a cappella by the ensemble, led by tenor Steve Rich, or played by Owen Yen on acoustic guitar--establishes a mood of quiet reflection.
The biblical story is fraught with drama--the announcement of the Virgin birth, the difficult journey to Bethlehem, persecution by Herod. But creator-director Andrew Park forgoes most of these details in favor of a few symbols and the creation of a feeling that something profound is occurring. Blue Nativity would make a lovely Advent meditation or vespers service in a dimly lit sanctuary, a fact that was evident even in Saint Andrew's auditorium, where I saw a matinee. Despite fluorescent lights, Pepto-Bismol-pink walls, and children who seemed more interested in their friends and Santa's scheduled appearance than the Nativity, it was clear we were witnessing a miracle of sorts.