According to a director’s note in the program, the director of BYU-Idaho’s winter show, Jennie Pardoe, wrote “Have you ever felt like you are doing everything right, but you aren’t receiving the blessings or answers to your questions in the manner that you expected?”

Set in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, the play follows nine Shaker women trying to understand the wave of spiritual gifts sweeping their community. Many questions and doubts arise when Sister Fanny, one of the newcomers, claims to see angels but cannot understand them.

The leaders of the community, Sister Hannah, the Deaconess Phebe and Sister Betsy, struggle to reconcile the newcomer’s supposed pension for spiritual gifts. The play follows the uproar and wrestles with faith that affects each individual sister in different ways.

“For the Shakers, gifts often had physical manifestations,” Pardoe said.

Within the play, gifts for seeing angels, hearing music, drawing images of heaven and even spinning display the faith of these women.

Sister Hannah battles not receiving any gifts of her own when she is supposed to be the leader of the community.

Sister Polly struggles to understand the emphasis on simplicity and harmony when faced with the option to have more.

Sister Jane faces the sorrow of losing little ones. Instead, she chooses to forget the love she had rather than feel the pain. However, it comes rushing back to her as she faces watching beloved little Izzy leave the Shaker community.

Sister Fanny pleads for help to understand the angels she sees, even when those she asks don’t believe she is seeing them.

Throughout the play, humor and emotion combine to create a heart-touching and faith-promoting story. Pardoe speaks on the unique experience of performing a Shaker play for a largely Latter-day Saint audience.

“We do not believe that Mother Ann Lee was the second coming of Christ, and we do not dance through our humans during church services,” Pardoe said. “But, we have much in common with our Shaker brothers and sisters. For example, we believe that there is a Heavenly Mother who works alongside our Heavenly Father and who loves us deeply. We believe through Christ that we are saved, and we believe that God still speaks to us today.”

At the end of the play, Sister Betsy turned to Sister Hannah and asked, “Did you see any angels?”

“When I saw the sisters’ faces, I almost thought they were,” Sister Hannah said.

For more information about the BYU-Idaho production, read this article.