I created the original Revels Website in November, 1997, and was Revels Webmaster for 5 years.
Since Revels, Inc. no longer wishes to host the pages devoted to some of the older shows, I've placed the retrospective pages on shows from 1995 to 2001 on one of my own sites, for the benefit of cast members and nostalgic fans.
The 2001 Spring Revels focussed on the great waves of immigration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries from Europe to the United States, and particularly, to Boston. Immigration brought together people who knew little about each other's heritage and customs but who were determined to make a life side by side in the New World.
We met some of these Italian, Irish and Eastern European Jewish families as they got to know each other, sing songs, tell tales, dance and celebrate both their differences and their shared experiences and ambitions.
Spring Revels' many highlights included Irish stepdancing, a Purimshpil Mummers Play, Italian folk tales, audience participation and a meshugina Klezmer Band! Additional performers included The Revels chorus of adults and children and David Coffin, Revels' master of ceremonies.
For thirty years, Revels has been celebrating the winter solstice at historic Sanders Theatre. Revels audiences have traveled to many unfamiliar lands and times through music, dance and drama. This year's production found Revels back home - in the mountains of Appalachia - as we celebrated the courage of the African Americans who traveled the "Gospel Train," and rejoiced in the simplicity and warmth of an Appalachian Christmas.
We hope you joined us on our big front porch and enjoyed the moving harmonies of The Silver Leaf Gospel Singers, a 6-voice a capella gospel choir that's been together for more than fifty years (and who've vowed to keep singing together "until the angels get happy"). And while you're there, stayed a while and listened to the quiet beauty of a Tennessee lullaby sung by 7th generation Appalachian singer and storyteller, Sheila Kay Adams, another of our many featured performers. Also appearing was a wonderful string band, the 40-member Revels Chorus, The Rocky River Children, The Smoky Mountain Dancers, The Cambridge Symphonic Brass Ensemble, and frequent Revels performers Janice Allen and David Coffin. We danced through the grand lobby of Memorial Hall as David led the audience in Revels' signature piece, "Lord of the Dance," a true ritual of our own.
Directed by Patrick Swanson, Spring Revels followed the fortunes of these early pioneers in a musical journey suggested by Longfellow's epic poem Evangeline. It was an exuberant celebration of Spring in typical Revels style: from the distinctive fiddling and dancing of a Cape Breton barn raising to the noisy street celebration and spicy melodies of a Cajun Mardi Gras. Spring Revels boasted an outstanding ensemble including Acadian recording artists, Barachois, exhilarating musicians from Prince Edward Island that kept the audience's toes tapping! Other performers included acclaimed actress Paula Plum, and musician Tom Pixton.
Originally produced to great international acclaim by the Royal National Theatre of Britain in 1985, The Mysteries is contemporary British playwright Tony Harrison's adaptation of plays from the York, Chester, Wakefield and Coventry traditions originally written and performed by working men, craftsmen and members of the Guilds.
The cultural influences were many. A true tradition bearer, Janice Allen learned her extraordinary repertoire from the late Bessie Jones, to whom the Smithsonian awarded the title of "national treasure" for her many decades of teaching, performing, and keeping alive the vibrant music, dance and folk tales of the Georgia Sea Islands.
Revels favorite David Coffin led an extraordinary company of singers and musicians including the Renaissance dance band Renaissonics, led by John Tyson on recorder, pipes and fiddle, and the a cappella early music trio, Tapestry, with mezzo-soprano Laurie Monahan, alto Daniela Tosic and Cristi Catt, soprano.
Featured performers included British balladeer and chanteyman Lou Killen, Bahamian musician and storyteller Derek Burrows and, making a rare Boston appearance, Revels' founder John Langstaff. In addition, Paula Plum, named Outstanding Actress by Boston Theatre Critics in 1995, narrated the tale of Lieutenant Cockatoo, written by the late English stage direcror, Ronald Eyre and performed by cast members with assistance from the magical puppets of local artist Sara Peattie.
The scope of the 1997 Christmas Revels was broad and included spectacular stories, music and dance from a variety of sources. Heading a cast of more than 80 performers was master storyteller Jay O'Callahan as "Old Rom", a mysterious but respected elder who knows the old tales which link Travelers from all times and places. Other performing artists included The New England Romanian Ensemble. Neena Gulati and members of the traditional Indian dance company Triveni Dance, Roberto Rios and El Arte Flamenco.
Set in a region rich in ancient stone circles and soaring cathedrals, this Breton Revels transported us, via the magic of storytelling, to an age of chivalry and romance, of bombardes and bagpipes, and the time of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
Master troubadour John Fleagle, formerly of Project Ars Nova and a frequent Boston Camerata soloist, rejoined the Revels in a featured role. The ultra-versatile singer and instrumentalist was joined onstage by David Coffin and the 50-member Revels Chorus of adults and children, the Cambridge Symphonic Brass Ensemble, The Pinewoods Morris Men and some of the finest early instrumentalists in New England playing pipes, shawms, pennywhistles and Celtic harp.
Imagine (as did the first Revels audience) that we are in England, in the Banqueting Hall of a mediæval castle, awaiting the arrival of a great King and the commencement of the annual festivities. Our companion-in-waiting is the Fool (who has the least comfortable seat in the house, and is ready to represent the grievances of those of you in partial-view seats).
|Official Revels, Inc. Site|
|The 2005 Christmas Revels|
|The 2000 Christmas Revels||2001 Spring Revels|
|The 1999 Christmas Revels||2000 Spring Revels|
|The 1998 Christmas Revels||1999 Sea Revels|
|The 1997 Christmas Revels||1998 Sea Revels|
|The 1996 Christmas Revels||1997 Midsummer Revels|
|The 1995 Christmas Revels||1996 Midsummer Revels|
Revels Revels was founded in 1971 by award-winning author and musician John Langstaff and his daughter, Carol to promote the understanding and appreciation of traditional folk music, dance and rituals from around the world. Patrick Swanson is Revels, Inc.'s National Artistic Director. John Langstaff is Director Emeritus.
From a modest start in Cambridge, Massachusetts, more than thirty years ago, Revels, Inc. has grown into a national, year-round organization which provides unique opportunities for communal celebration. Fully staged and costumed seasonal performances blending traditional music, dance, drama, and ritual are presented by a large volunteer chorus of children and adults drawn from the community, and a number of highly talented professional actors, musicians, artists, directors and "bearers of tradition" from many cultures. Audience participation is also a Revels trademark.
Celebrations of cultures using traditional materials and seasonal rituals is a common theme in Revels performances. The Christmas Revels, the company's best known production, is a celebration of the winter solstice whose theme in any given year might range from Medieval, to Victorian, to Russian and American...
Many different Revels productions occur annually in eleven cities across the country:Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts; New York City; Washington, D.C. ; Hanover, New Hampshire; Oakland, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Houston, Texas; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Tacoma, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Chicago, Illinois. The newest Revels company is Rocky Mountain Revels, in Boulder, Colorado. In addition, many smaller Revels-inspired productions are performed in various small towns throughout the nation.
Revels also offers educational programs in schools and occasional workshops for teachers. Revels produces and sells compact discs, cassettes,songbooks, and educational materials.
Revels, Inc. was founded in 1971 and incorporated in 1974 as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization to further the production of Revels performances and related projects.
Revels, Inc. is supported, in part, from funding received from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
Send E-mail to Revels, or
Telephone 617-972-8300 or
Drop us a line at:
80 Mount Auburn Street
Watertown, Massachusetts 02472-3930
Last Updated: by Harriet Fell