For two weekends in December 2002 I sang bass in the
chorus of the California version
of the Christmas Revels. This was a challenging year, since most
of the songs were in Gallician, a cross between Spanish and Portuguese.
Being part of this show is a major commitment
of time but I had such fun that I've signed up to do it again in 2003.
Fortunately this year the theme is Elizabethan England, so except
for the standard bits in Latin (Dona Nobis Pacem, the Boar's
Head Carol etc) everything is in English.
Two chorus members who also had
major acting parts clowning around for photographers.
Chorus members learn to sing while
dancing and, in one memorablably complicated number, dancing up
a set of stairs and down the other side into the backstage recesses
of the amazing space that is Oakland's Scottish Rite Temple.
One of the favorite recurring elements
of most Revels is this centuries-old all-male English dance, performed
with lights dimmed and accompanied by a single flute. The original
meanings evoked by this ritual are lost in the mists of time--lines
of men head-butting with stag's antlers held to their foreheads,
the character "half man half woman," the boy archer--but
something about it feels exactly right, affording a mysterious sense
of linking with our pagan ancestors.
Here I am with my young stage wife Stina
and our three charming daughters Anne, Lauren and Sophie, on our
way from our homes in France to Santiago de Campostella in Gallicia
(northwestern Spain). The opening scenes of the 2002 Revels featured
a group of families setting out from France at the time of the Rensaissance
on this famous route to the legendary burial place of St. James.
I got to wear a great hat that, according to a sticker inside, had
last been used in a production of Cyrano de Bergerac.
More chorus members clowning around
between shows. The group of Teens seems to get most of the best
Julietta Zuniga oversaw chorus choreography
and performed a solo piece. Flamenco dance performers were another
popular part of the show.