GARDEN GROVE, Calif. Even as a child, the Glory of Christmas could elevate Jenna Jobst to new heights. Perhaps it was the joy instilled by her grandmother who drove four hours each way just to see the annual Crystal Cathedral production.
Years later she REALLY gets elevated. Jobst is one of 14 angels featured in the beloved production, which runs through Jan. 5 at the Garden Grove church.
A dancer since the age of 5, Jobst said she read about auditions for the production several years ago. She didn't think twice. With her long blonde hair and graceful dancer arms, Jobst made the cut and was seeing the production from a whole different perspective.
Angel auditions begin in September, with three-hour practices running twice a week until the opening.
The angels are treated to some of the best technology available, thanks to an update two years ago.
"It's amazing, you feel like you are on a big swing that doesn't stop," said Jobst, whose training includes Joffee coursework.
The upgraded rigging devices are designed to increase flying ability and mobility, officials said. At 80 feet high, and able to fly at speeds up to 20 mph, the angels soar across one of the largest indoor sets in the world.
Jobst, who has also performed in the Glory of Easter, admits having butterflies when she first took to the air. Now, in her fifth production, flying has become second nature.
"It feels so safe," she said, in her naturally soft, sweet voice.
As part of the show the angels descend from the all-glass Cathedral ceiling.
"You see what's behind the magic of the whole show," she said. "You fell like you are more God's angel than God's child."
Even so, Jobst appears to be fully grounded in her faith. She loves the Lord and when not flying high with the cast of angels, she works at a Christian dance studio in Yorba Linda, where she lives.
"I have fun with that all the time, spreading the Word of God in dance," she said.
In addition to her Glory gig and the studio work Jobst is working two other jobs. Like many Southern Californians, Jobst's schedule is hectic and some days can be less than heavenly. It's those times, she said, when she especially looks forward to her angel role.
"Through it I get goose bumps," she said. "I feel like someone is watching out for us from above. God really lets you know He's there."
Being an angel makes for interesting conversation she said, adding that people's demeanor seems to change when they find out about her night job.
"They get happy," she said. "I'm glad to promote it (the show). It's so, so special, definitely something to be proud of."
The dramatic production is showcased against the signature all-glass cathedral, founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller. More than 2.5 million people are estimated to have seen the show since its 1980 launch. The show is directed and written by Paul David Dunn and wife Jeanne. The production retells the story of Mary and Joseph's journey into Bethlehem.
In addition to the angels, the cast of 200 also features Roman soldiers patrolling the streets, shepherds guarding their flocks and townspeople paying homage to the newborn King. Music and interpretive dance round out the offerings.
The music is presented through a pre-recorded score by the London Symphony and Seattle symphony orchestras. The soundtrack of Christmas classics is augmented by professional singers and soloists.
The volunteer team of 300 is complemented with a corral of animals including yaks, donkeys, camels, horses, goats, and baby llamas.
"The Glory of Christmas" will perform most nights, with showings at 4:30, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. through Jan. 5. Tickets range from $35 to $55, with several $20 discount nights. For reservations and to purchase tickets, call the Crystal Cathedral box office at (714) 54-GLORY or to order online, visit www.crystalcathedral.org.