On July 23rd of 1967, a small crowd of about 2,000 people sat quietly chatting together in the early evening in the grandstands of the Sanpete County fairgrounds in Manti, Utah, and listened as rain fell on the metal roof above them. Two angry dark storm centers wheeled together overhead, and occasional flashes of lightning were answered with the sharp cracking and rolling of thunder. In the arena where broncos and bulls were ridden at fair time, the soft earth had been set with transplanted sagebrush, a grove of trees, and a wooden platform which served as a stage.
The pioneer movement was represented by one handcart. Two Book of Mormon prophets, Mormon and Moroni, were seen on Temple Hill across the fences to the east, portrayed as a mortal on the west slope by Larry Stable, and as an angel on the temple annex by LeGrand Olson. Doug Barton had hung 100 watt light globes in gallon cans on steel posts to light the hill. Trees east of the fairgrounds had been trimmed to make the temple hill visible to the audience.
Directors for that first production were Helen and Morgan Dyreng, with Jane Braithwaite assisting. Communication between the set on the fairgrounds and those on temple hill was maintained by walkie talkie's, hand-held by Lynn Nielsen and John Henry Nielsen.
A twenty-five piece orchestra composed mostly of local musicians trained by Richard Nibley, would serve as accompaniment to the songs and incidental music used as background for the pageant. McLoyd Erickson, Evan Bean and Harry A. Dean were music directors, and Richard Nibley would play first violin using his imported instrument. A choir from Sanpete South Stake was seated on open bleachers. As they tried to protect their music from the light rain that was falling some wondered how much rain it would take to ruin a violin.
One lone woman sat apart from the audience, oblivious to threatening storm, but reluctant to take shelter in the grandstand. When encouraged to come up into the protected seats she commented that this first night of the pageant was very crucial. ' 'If it doesn't go tonight,it will never go." She chose to sit by herself in the rain.That woman was Grace Johnson. And although she felt that the initial presentation was vitally important, she could never have known the scope and grandeur that would come to the pageant, or the impact that it would have on the lives of people world-wide.
Now in the over 4 decades since a cast of 900 people come together every year to perform and provide services for nightly crowds of 8,000 to 18,000 for a 10 day period every June known as the Mormon MIracle Pageant!
The 2012 Mormon Miracle Pageant is June 21st - 23rd and June 26th - 30th. It begins at 9:30 p.m. each night. There is free admission to the pageant. If you would like more information, go to: http://www.mormonmiracle.org