The Glory of Christmas
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The Glory of Christmas was an annual musical performance of the story of the birth of Jesus performed between 1981 and 2009 at Christmastime in the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. The show was cancelled from 2010 on after the church filed for bankruptcy, following the cancellation earlier that year of a related show, The Glory of Easter.
In 1980 the Crystal Cathedral was dedicated. In 1981 the beautiful living nativity, The Glory of Christmas premiered inside the first all-glass church.
The Cathedral seats 2,736 for church services-2,508 when holding the enormous Glory of Christmas set.
Installing the production set takes a month of preparation-including lighting load-in, angel track installation and rigging, as well as set construction.
Eight angels fly throughout both productions. Some fly as high as 80-feet and can travel as fast as 25 miles per hour.
The Cathedral's pipe organ has 287 ranks of pipes, 16,000 individual, 549 horizontal trumpet pipes in the East and West Balconies and 5,000 additional pipes in the South Balcony division, making it the largest collection of such pipes in the world.
More than 300 volunteers dedicate over 160 hours each to The Glory of Christmas as both cast members and volunteer ushers.
Animals play an integral role in the production's recreation of the ancient land. In The Glory of Christmas you will see three adult camels and a baby, six horses, a yak, a llama, a baby water buffalo and many sheep and goats.
The performance is done in the style of traditional Christmas pageants done each year at many churches, but on a grand scale that straddles the quality and feel of a Broadway show. The elaborate costumes such as those of Roman centurions or the Three Wise Men are professionally designed and produced. The musical numbers include popular Christmas music such as "O Holy Night", "Silent Night", and "Mary Did You Know?", and feature elaborate orchestral accompaniment. The vocal style of the performances range from operatic to gospel.
The performance features live animals, such as camels, horses, sheep, and goats. Angels, as many as seven at once, "fly" on a high-speed flying gantry and a high-volume smoke-machine (used to generate a notably convincing storm-cloud twenty feet above the audience).
Perhaps the most impressive effect is the departure of the angels. In each scene that involves angels, they exit in a rapid flight to the farthest and highest points in the Crystal Cathedral (each some 150 ft. from the center of the audience and roughy 90 ft. above the floor)
Throughout the performance, dancers perform beautiful ballet-type movements and various interpretive dance choreography.
The 1993 production, directed by Paul David Dunn, was recorded and exists in tape and disc form.