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Jul 16, 2012

Mormon Pageant: Fab Or Drab?

Fabness and drabness coexisted peacefully at the 75th Hill Cumorah Pageant, where 750 Mormons acted out the Book of Mormon.

This weekend, BuzzFeed checked out the Hill Cumorah Pageant, an annual elaborate stage show where a huge cast of amateurs act out the story of the Book of Mormon. It all takes place outside Rochester, NY, on the exact hill (which is incredibly steep, making for a great stage) where, in the 1820s, Joseph Smith discovered the tablets that comprise the Book of Mormon text.

Thousands of people attend from all over the country and the world to see the show, which has production values to rival any Broadway show.

Let's see who was Fab and who was Drab.

Fab: fake bling

Gold rings of the 3 wisemen

Drab: fake fur

A "New World" woman. The Book of Mormon follows a group of people who came from Jerusalem to the Americas. The Jerusalem characters' costumes look like traditional biblical art depictions of the Old Testament, costumes for the New World characters are Aztec/Mayan American influenced.

Fab: wigs

Wigs in the ladies' dressing room.

Drab: real braids

A New World woman gets her hair done.

Fab: blinged out bandana headbands

A young actress in costume.

Drab: plain old hairbows

A visitor at Joseph Smith's historic home, located down the road from the Hill Cumorah.

Fab: braces

Two friends who play the same character, the prophet Alma, at different stages of his life. Alma is one of the "good guys".

Drab: goatees

King Noah, one of the bad guys. He orders the prophet Abinadi to be burned to death. Don't worry, Noah gets his in the end.

Fab: Mariachi guitar

Playing outside the Sacred Grove, the wooded area where Joseph Smith had vision telling him to look for the tablets of the Book of Mormon.

Drab: taking photos with your iPad

Never do this.

Fab: mist machines


Elaborate special effects included a mist with colored backlighting.

Drab: a vengeful god destroying you


During the "destruction scene", a day prophesied by Samuel, real fire shoots up from the stage.

Fab: Wearing matching headgear

Two college students play Nephi dancers.

Drab: wearing matching t-shirts


Fab: making new friends with your elders

Drab: making new friends with Elders

Fab: sewing room where the fab happens

Drab: this kid described the fabric of his costume as "a couch and a bedsheet"

This outfit is for the scene that takes place in the 1800s with Joseph Smith.

Fab team in action in the dressing room

A "New World woman" gets her wig and costume ready.

Getting fab


Fab: bespoke tailored suits


Joseph Smith, played by 16 year old Samuel Hatch.

Drab: loose, unfitted robes


Some Jesus guy.

Fab: getting to run off-leash

Drab: snoozing

Fab: Latina babes in regular clothes

Drab: white babes in Latin American-inspired costumes

Fab: hanging out with members of the opposite sex

He was very nervous and explained, "um, she's my sister's friend."

Drab: Hanging out with your parents

Most of the cast were part of full families that came together for the 2 week combined rehearsal and performances.

Drab: dying

The prophet Abinadi is burned to death. Real fire is used onstaget.

Fab: coming back

YOLO, sike!

Fab: purple and gold headpieces

Drab: coneheads

Fab: Man skirts

Characters Moroni (L) and Laman (R). These are two of the larger roles, with "speaking" parts (all voices are prerecorded by other actors, they just lipsync along).

Drab: mandals

L-R: Fab, Drab, Fab, Drab.

Audience members getting their photo taken with cast before the show.

Fab: saving your seats with an on-trend Navajo print blanket

Drab: saving seats with an animal print snuggie

Fab: Salt potatoes

Salt potatoes, I learned, are a region delicacy in Rochester and Syracuse. They're small potatoes boiled in extremely salty water, then covered in melted butter. They were sold in the food tent.

Drab: donuts brought from supermarket

They're no salt potatoes.

Fab: hi-fiving kids

This kid was so excited to see the actor playing Nephi, because he's one of the heroes of the Book of Mormon.

Drab: posing with your brother who tries to kill you repeatedly

Nephi (L) and Laman (R) are characters who are brothers in the pageant. In real life, they're just buddies.

Fab: hat!

One of the three wisemen that visit the birth of Jesus.

Drab: no hat

Fab: this guy

This guy plays Mormon, the last of his people, who writes their story onto gold plates and has his son bury the plates. The plates are later discovered by Smith and is called the Book of Mormon, because he wrote it.

Fab: a stage with 750 people


Drab: people protesting Mormons outside the Pageant

Evangelical Christians showed up at the entrance gates with signs and pamphlets with their message that the Book of Mormon is false. They told me their numbers were smaller than usual, because some of their crew had to go protest a gay pride parade in Rochester that same Saturday.


King Noah's shoes. The bad guys are always the best dressed.

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