Raise that cup of wassail, because this is certainly something to celebrate:
The annual Madrigal Feast, officially known as “Ye Olde English Christmasse Feaste,” returns as a live performance in front of an audience this weekend.
Presented by the combined Tremper, Bradford and Indian Trail Madrigal Singers, the 47th annual feast is set for 7 p.m. Friday (Dec. 10) and 3 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 11) in the Tremper High School Auditorium, 8560 26th Ave.
The production involves nearly 100 students including singers, instrumentalists and the always entertaining jesters, all dressed in elegant 16th century period costumes.
“We are excited to welcome a live audience back to our festivities,” said Choral Director and Madrigal Feaste advisor Polly Amborn.
“The Feaste steering committee felt strongly that we wanted to do all we could to give the students and our loyal audience members the chance to experience it together again,” said Amborn, who is also the Tremper choral director and music department chair.Spectators will be treated to all the pageantry audiences become accustomed to in Feastes past, going back nearly half a century.
The Madrigal Feaste website’s own description says it best: “Step back in time with us and enjoy the exciting sights, the beautiful sounds. Come and experience the drama, the pageantry, and the elegance of a 16th century castle…Thrill at the talents, the skills, and the bravery of performers (including) drama players, court musicians, madrigal singers, jesters and more.”
This year the instrumentalists, aka court musicians, will share a bit more of the spotlight, Amborn said.
“This year we wanted to give the recorder, string and brass ensembles a little extra chance to shine and will give them each a short feature during the performance in addition to some pre-show music,” Amborn said.
While the traditional “feaste food” cannot be served during this year’s shows, the committee did find silver lining. Forgoing the dinner portion of the event meant the performance could be held in the newly-renovated, more spacious Tremper auditorium rather than the cafeteria.
“The Madrigal Singers normally have to be partially divided due to stage space constraints, but this year we will be able to fit all 34 on stage in their full costumes!” Amborn said.
Filling in for the feast portion of the festivities will be a separate ticketed event in the Tremper cafeteria prior to Saturday’s performance. “Guests can enjoy some hot wassail and toast in the holiday season,” Amborn said.
“Wassail and Toasts” begins at 2 p.m. Saturday with toasts scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for the general public, free for kids under 6, and do not include admission to the main event. (The full meal format is expected to return next year, according to the Feaste website.)
While last year’s video presentation featuring the Madrigals and jesters was truly a gift to our community at the end of a tumultuous 2020, reuniting the student performers and the audience this year is the best present of all.
Amborn expressed gratitude for both the audience and those behind the scenes.
“Many families have made this a yearly tradition because there is something for everyone to enjoy,” Amborn said. “There are many people who selflessly volunteer so much time, and they are vital to our success.”
Tickets for the “Ye Olde Englishe Christmasse Feaste” performances are $12 for the general public, $5 for students and senior citizens and are available online.