This afternoon, my wife, son, and good family friend Craig took in the performance of The Christmas Revels at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge. The annual pageant of music, dance, storytelling, and drama focused this year on the pilgrimage along the Camino de Compostela in the Spanish region of Galicia. As a Celtic culture, the Galicians have their own version of the bagpipe called the gaita which featured prominently. Any piece featuring gaita and drums was a highlight for me. The largest drum resonated throughout the house.
The story of this Revels follows Everyman (portrayed by Jay O’Callahan) on his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella and onwards to the End of the Earth in Finisterre. Elements of Don Quixote are woven into the story as Everyman is knighted and joined on his journey by squire Sancho (Billy Meleady, who starred in last year’s show) and the tavern keeper Angélica (the delightful Angélica Aragón).
Usually the theme of a Revels’ performance is an excuse to tie together song and dance numbers, but this story of a pilgrimage actually maintains a pretty continuous narrative built around set pieces along the Camino, in a tavern, at a monastery, at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and finally at Finisterre. The sets and lighting are really remarkable in adapting the stage for the different places along the journey.
Highlights of the show include:
- the talent and hard work of the Revels’ children whose performance more than ever is fully-integrated into the show.
- the charming line dance when the pilgrims are greeted by the monks to the tune of “Alborada de Ourense.”
- O’Callahan telling the story of “The Singing Sack.”
- sing-a-long with choreography to “Fum, Fum, Fum.”
- puppetry and lights to enact the Galacian version of the posadas ritual.
- an amazing bit of stagecraft where a giant censer is swung like a pendulum over the performers on the stage (based on the Botafumeiro at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
- Jaime Jaffe’s solo performance of “Ondas Do Mar De Vigo.”
- a mummers play featuring a mustachioed dragon who performed the hammiest death throes.
There were some disappointments. Jay O’Callahan was hard to understand and I’m not sure if he was mumbling or mic’ed improperly. Sitting in balcony center meant it took a long time to get downstairs to participate in “The Lord of the Dance.” It ended just as we reached the lobby. While I would not rank this among my all time favorite Revels’ performances, it was still delightful and I recommend seeing it if you have the chance. There are four more performances before the show closes on December 27th, so get your tickets now!
The Boston Globe has a more-detailed review for your perusal.
For Father’s Day this year, we once again visited one of the most beautiful places on earth, Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton, MA. I guess it’s a tradition now.
Frog on a log. Far fewer than we saw last year.
We had no idea what these red bumps were so we showed this picture to the naturalist. He believes it’s the remains of a slime mold.
Looking out over the Beaver Pond.
Daisy in the meadow.
The Meadow changes with every step as the contours shift with a new perspective.
Purple flowers (I’m an archivist, not a botanist, all right!)
The stone wall, a New England tradition.
Frog on a lily pad.
Previously: Photopost: Wachusett Meadow (2012)
Join SingPositive, JP! for our Spring Concert!
Sunday, May 19th, 4pm @ St. John’s Episcopal Church (1 Roanoke Ave.)
“Awake, My Soul” – celebrating spring, change, growth, and rebirth
with JP’s biggest intergenerational chorus and band
Songs from Mumford & Sons, Michael Jackson, The Muppets,
James Taylor, “Hair,” Peter, Paul and Mary, and more
Tickets available at the door or by emailing us:
$10/adults, $5/kids ages 2-16.
“Join” our Facebook event and invite your friends!
Spring descended on Jamaica Plain this past weekend with the annual Wake Up the Earth Festival presented by Spontaneous Celebrations. This was the 35th annual festival, an event that grew out of the “highway revolt” of the 1960s & 70s when local activists opposed the construction of highway infrastructure in Jamaica Plain & Roxbury, leading to the creation of the Southwest Corridor as a system of train lines, bike paths, and parks that we enjoy today. Ironically, some people who want to create new prioritized highway infrastructure for cars marched in this year’s parade which I guess shows that this festival takes all kinds. The festival itself was home to many tents of activists of many causes, food, games, and musical performances. My family and I sang a few songs with the intergenerational chorus SingPositive, JP in preparation for our concert on May 19th. We also danced to Maaak Pelletier’s jam band the Mystical Misfits as they played Grateful Dead classics. Finally, the potato sack slide down the hillside was great fun for everyone.
A peace sign and yin yang grow out of the hillside at Jamaica Pond’s Sugar Bowl.
Peace and flowers!
The Brendan Behan quote seems appropriate to the occassion.
Spanish banner for the festival.
Here comes the parade.
The stilt walkers always impress.
I’m pretty sure this woman participates every year.
The theme of the year is snakes and these folks won the Best Family Costume award.
Hula hooping is another big highlight of the festival.
Mobile percussion unit.
The wolf and the lamb dance in the street.
A rocking marching band and dancing stilt walker.
Scholars from my son’s school march.
The Mystical Misfits lead the dance.
More photos from the parade and festival on Universal Hub and JP Patch.
The songs in my head this week, of course, are the songs I’m rehearsing for a concert called Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live. The show is next Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square (on the Red Line) at 8:00. Beck released his 2012 album Song Reader entirely as sheet music, and 150 of Boston’s best musicians, dancers, and performance artists will be presenting their interpretations of all 20 songs. My choir will perform an arrangement of one song a capella and provide accompaniment to four other songs.
Get your tickets now for $25/seat as this show is sure to sell out!
The choral centerpiece is a song called “The Wolf is on the Hill.” In this video, you may hear us rehearsing a couple of weeks ago. We sound even better now. At the end of this clip you can also hear a small portion of “Title of the Song” which is the grand finale of the concert.
The choir is also accompanying Sarah Ribdau and Peter Moore on their rendition of “Please Leave the Light On When You Go” and Peter Moore’s take of “Heaven’s Ladder”:
The choir is participating on a fifth song as well, “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard” by Molly Zenobia. This may be my favorite of all the songs I’ve heard, but you’ll have to take my word for it and come to the concert to hear it, because there is no demo.
Some other songs you will hear at the concert include:
- “Why Did You Make Me Care” by Mary Bichner:
- “Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings” by The Highland Drifters
- “Old Shanghai” by Mary Bichner
This barely scratches the surface, as there will be a dozen more songs plus choreographed dance performances for each number.
So buy your tickets now!!!
Next week, I will singing in a 50-person kick-ass choir as part of a concert called Beck’s Song Reader Performed Live. The show is next Thursday, February 28, 2013 at Somerville Theatre in Davis Square (on the Red Line) at 8:00. Beck released his 2012 album Song Reader entirely as sheet music, and 150 of Boston’s best musicians, dancers, and performance artists will be presenting their interpretations of all 20 songs. My choir will perform an arrangement of one song a capella and provide accompaniment to four other songs. Get your tickets now for $25/seat as this show is sure to sell out!