Newborn King to the
Bethlehem Revisited has transformed downtown Waxahachie into a storybook Bible lesson for over 20 years WAXAHACHIE – Each year before the opening scenes of Bethlehem Revisited near downtown Waxahachie, the cast and organizers celebrate by retelling the birth story of Jesus. Just before the 20th annual re-enactment that turns a couple of blocks of the historic Gingerbread Capital into an all-too-real Bethlehem, effervescent community members honored the makeshift city’s founder, Hilda Chapman. Chapman, who passed away in 2014, was instrumental in turning the dream and two-by-four booths into a walking, breathing, biblical history lesson. “The early years were very fundamental. The booths were made of two by fours with painted plastic. There were no sidewalks, making it difficult for wheelchair visitors,” said Elizabeth Tull just before opening night in 2016. “Now we have a village of permanent buildings, sidewalks, park benches and lighting that make it an attraction for visitors from all over the state and some out of state.” For casting coordinator Paige Gordon, the process to begin filling roles or finding the next Mary starts in September. First, she contacts actors from seasons past. Gordon will then reach out to casting colleagues for new actors or tradespeople. She tries to find those who “have a trade that would apply to the Bethlehem village as it was at the time of the birth of Jesus.” “Many of the cast have been with the production since its beginning, while others are newcomers that bring crafts the way they were done in the time,” Gordon said. “We have actors that come from as far away as Weatherford and other areas outside the metroplex.” The streets came to life every Friday night — lined with street merchants selling bread, fruits, and livestock. Other craftsmen, such as the cloth weavers, flute and soap makers, are always busy plying their skills under the star shown above the small village. “They are all skilled and use processes and techniques that were used [during that period],” Gordon noted. “The lady the dyes the cloth uses the same materials and dyes. The wool weaver uses the
same tools to weave cloth for clothing that were used back then.” The production story begins with Mary and Joseph entering the city among the villagers seeking a place to give birth. The couple then meets the innkeeper who says, “The inn is full. There is no place here for you, but I have a stable that you can use.” With an invite to the stable, Joseph leads the donkey carrying Mary to the outskirts of the village. As the numerous guests follow, several parents typically explain the story of the birth the to their children following. “I saw baby Jesus,” is a frequent comment of the many children lined around the wooden fence bordering the stable. With the birth announced, King Herod commands the three wise men to seek the baby. They zigzag their way through the city, stopping at the tax collector before visiting the innkeeper and finally arriving at the stable to present their gifts. CONTINUED PAGE 12
Actors portraying Mary and Joseph celebrate the birth of baby Jesus during the opening weekend of Bethlehem Revisited.