PALMYRA, NY. — Organizers of the LDS Church’s famed Hill Cumorah Pageant in New York State say they will cease production after its 2020 season.
The announcement Saturday came after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement, urging its members to focus on gospel learnings in the home, discouraging large local celebrations, such as pageants.
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.”
A press release sent by Amanda Lonsberry, Pageant Public Affairs Director with the Hill Cumorah Pageant, said that church leaders took into consideration how to reduce the time commitments of some church members, specifically those who were involved in large pageants that take place throughout the country.
The Hill Cumorah Pageant takes place annually in Manchester, New York. In July of 2018 during it’s 81st season, around 25,000 people attended the pageant, the press release stated.
“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 production began as a reenactment of the Book of Mormon and the Bible by a group of local missionaries on makeshift stages lit by car lamps, but grew to what the press release called “the largest outdoor theatrical event in North America.”
A cast made up of around 750 volunteers and 150 stage and technical crew members put on the production.
The 2019 performance of the Hill Cumorah Pageant will July 12-13 and 16-20.