Things in Bethlehem are about to get a bit…how can we put it…crazy! The town crier gathers all the innkeepers to deliver the news that they’ll soon be swamped by visitors, who’ll be arriving for a new census. Keen to make sure their accommodation is up-to-scratch for paying guests, they all decide that a lick of paint and a good spring-clean are in order! (song – Good As New)
In the offices of the ‘Bethlehem B&B Bulletin’, the staff are compiling all the reviews they have received from previous visitors to the town’s inns and guesthouses. It’s clear from the feedback that only one place has been providing a five-star service, while the others have failed miserably in achieving customer satisfaction! As the Bulletin is published, Silas and Sapphira, owners of Caesar’s Palace Guesthouse, smugly celebrate the fact they have received rave reviews across the board (song – Our Inn’s Better Than Your Inn), gloating about how they’ll cash-in when all the new visitors arrive. What nobody knows, however, is that for a long time this sly pair has been writing and submitting lots of fake reviews, horribly criticising the other inns whilst showering praise on their own!
Meanwhile, in Nazareth, we meet two of the visitors who will soon be coming to Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph. The Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is to have God’s son, but she need not be afraid, as He will be watching over her. (song – Side By Side)
Back in Bethlehem, Samuel and Sarah, owners of a little inn called The Happy Donkey, are down on their luck. With all the recent bad reviews they have received, guests have been avoiding them and their future looks bleak. If things don’t improve, The Happy Donkey will have to close down!
(song – An Innkeeper’s Life)
The day arrives when the hordes descend on Bethlehem! Having read the reviews, everyone heads for Caesar’s Palace Guesthouse, hoping to bag a room at ‘the best place in town’, whatever it costs. However, with so many visitors, it is soon fully-booked and some have to make do with staying at the more undesirable inns, including The Happy Donkey. This is the one night when not a single room in Bethlehem is vacant! (song – No Vacancy)
When Joseph and Mary arrive in Bethlehem, they can find nowhere to stay. With Mary about to have her baby, they stumble across The Happy Donkey Inn. Eager to help, but with their one room already occupied, Samuel and Sarah can only offer the desperate couple their stable, which Mary and Joseph gratefully accept and settle down for the night.
With the birth of Mary’s baby, miraculous events then unfold. A bright star settles over the stable (song – A Star In The Sky) which draws a crowd of onlookers, who marvel at how pretty this little inn looks. Amongst the crowd are visitors to the town who wonder why they hadn’t noticed The Happy Donkey when they first arrived in Bethlehem. A group of excited shepherds then enters, telling of how angels had appeared to them with news of a holy baby born tonight in this very stable. The impressed onlookers are filled with awe at this news, and then gasp in amazement as three elegant and exotic men arrive, bearing precious gifts for the baby. Everyone soon realises that this little inn must be a very special place indeed. (song – Something Special) Silas and Sapphira are last on the scene, annoyed that this rival inn suddenly seems to be the centre of everyone’s attention. Could the Happy Donkey’s fortunes be changing?
News quickly spreads about that evening at The Happy Donkey. The little inn becomes a tourist hotspot, with an endless stream of guests relishing the opportunity to enjoy Samuel’s and Sarah’s hospitality and hear first-hand from them about all the wonderful happenings in their stable. As business booms, the Happy Donkey’s future is secure and when the real reviews start pouring in, from real satisfied customers, there can be no argument….there is (song – Nowhere Better To Stay!).