The Midwinter Revels is already flashing up on the marquee at Tacoma’s historic Rialto Theatre, promising a stunning spectacle of song, dance and holiday fun for people of all ages. Puget Sound Revels, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, is pleased to present five showings of this midwinter feast for the senses, December 16, 17, 19, and 20. Tickets can be purchased here.
This year’s Midwinter Revels is set in a medieval English village along the Silk Road where traders from the East arrive, bringing goods, ideas, songs, and stories gathered in their travels. With a cast of fine musicians, aged 8 to nearly 80, beautiful sets, costumes, and a treasure trove of Yuletide traditions, some cloaked in the mystery of ages past, there is something for everyone. A Feast of Fools, the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, a boisterous Mummers Play, and Music-profound are just some of the offerings. So break out the hurdy-gurdy and the clavicymbalum because it’s time to celebrate the solstice.
Have I Seen this Already?
Though the title of the show remains the same, “Every year is different, offering a mélange of folk music, high art music, and low comedy, which is my department,” says BJ Douglas, stage director and playwright. “Each year, we choose a time and a place and celebrate the darkest days of the year and the return of the light, bringing the traditions of that place and time to life. We build a village, both in thought and deed, on the stage and invite the audience to join in the celebration. So, while there will be some familiar elements from year to year, each production is filled with new delights. Seeing one isn’t seeing them all.”
Puget Sound Revels is part of a national organization, with companies in nine cities, each presenting their own “The Midwinter Revels,” tailored to their own audience and troupe. Scripts, music, and knowledge are shared, but each company develops its own character through the application of the director’s expertise. “She’ll say her wheelhouse is low comedy,” says Music Director Megan Oberfield about Douglas, “and we are known in the broader Revels community as ‘the funny ones,’ but after working together for over 20 years, I’ve realized that what BJ excels in is elegant simplicity; finding the simplest, most effective way to convey the complexities of a moment. We strive to live up to her vision as, after 30 years of bringing the show to life, she prepares to hand over the reins.”
“Yes, this is somehow my retirement year,” Douglas adds. “After only 30 years! But I’m leaving it all in such good hands. Michelle Matlock will be taking over next year. She has been my Assistant Director for a few years and has a strong sense of Revels, and I’m sure she will do well.”
Drawn Into the Experience
Celebrating is something you do, not something you watch. What separates the Midwinter Revels from other stage performances is that everyone in the room is part of the experience. As part of the ‘village that never was,’ you’ll be invited to sing, dance in the aisles, and lend your voice to the drama. A few willing folks will even be invited to play out a part on stage. Whether you are the first out of your seat to dance or prefer to sit back while the sights and sounds swirl around you, the hope is that you find a sense of joy and connection that you can carry throughout the year.
Reveling the Year Round
“Many people know of us through our Midwinter Revels show,” says Amy Wigstrom, executive director of the Puget Sound Revels. “but they may not be aware that Revels marks the passing of the entire year with community seasonal celebrations. Funded through Tacoma Creates, we have free events almost every month. This month, for instance, we are flinging joy around the city with four Neighborhood Dragonlight Parades! Pub sings, dances, concerts, and workshops happen throughout the year to spark a feeling of community and to mark our journey ‘round the sun. We are excited to be partnering with Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center (TUPAC) for a May Day celebration in Wright Park, broadening the array of traditions we can share and strengthening connections with our neighbors.”
So, if you’re ready for a joy-filled experience full of song, story, dance, and laughter, The Midwinter Revels is for you. Tickets can be purchased here, and you can learn about Revels year ‘round online.
Show Dates for The Midwinter Revels
Saturday, December 16, at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (ASL)
Sunday, December 17, at 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, December 19, at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, December 20, at 2:00 p.m.