When it comes to the recorded events of the nativity story, we actually have relatively little to go on. We know there was a census, we know that Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem, and we know that baby Jesus was born during their visit. What we don’t know, and can only infer, is what their journey was like, or what staying in a “stable” actually involved. Nor do we know how the residents of Bethlehem felt about the arrival of so many strangers into their little town, whether the strangers were welcomed or unwanted. Thus, around the core story, a writer must embellish and develop, trying to bring to life a timeless tale with a fresh take. And more than that, must come up with something that children can relate to and are keen to perform. We hope, with the characters, humour, songs and messages of “Hay Presto”, that we have done just that.
The nativity begins with a song about the build up to Christmas and all the excitement and anticipation that it brings (COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS). Our narrators then lead us back in time to the road to Bethlehem as people head there for the census called by Caesar Augustus (UNDERNEATH THE STAR THERE IS A STABLE).
Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, the townsfolk are becoming increasingly anxious about the arrival of all of these people to their town and the demands they will place on its resources. Similarly, in a nearby stable, the resident animals are becoming increasingly anxious about their hay!
Also on their travels are the three kings and their entourage (THESE THREE KINGS), following the star from the East.
Back in Bethlehem, with most of the visitors already there, the townsfolk are (in general) delighted with how busy it is, with all of their inns full (BURSTING AT THE SEAMS). Sadly, for Mary and Joseph arriving late, this means they have nowhere to stay. At least, until a kind innkeeper makes his stable available to them.
In the stable, the animals have stockpiled their hay in the corner so they can keep a good eye on it. But when a man, woman and donkey arrive, looking tired and hungry, they have a change of heart and immediately share their hay with the poor donkey.
For the sheep and shepherds on a nearby hill, hay is the last thing on their minds: a choir of angels, wonderful to behold, had arrived to tell them news of a baby’s arrival in a stable in Bethlehem (SHINE LIKE A DIAMOND). They hurry to see him and discover him lying in the animal’s manger, his parents at his side (HAY PRESTO). Shortly after, the three kings and their entourage arrive, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and
myrrh. Their camels are hungry, and the stable animals are very quick to offer them some of their hay and water.
Our narrators reflect on the joy of the occasion and introduce us to the final song (THE WONDERS OF CHRISTMAS).