Now in it's 5th year, All is Calm was created by Latte Da's Artistic Director Peter Rothstein and the nine-man vocal ensemble Cantus. It begins with a few traditional Christmas carols, sung in stunning harmonies. Then the theater part of the piece begins as the actors (Matt Rein, David Roberts, and Alan Sorenson) come onstage and being speaking the words of witnesses to the event, taken from letters, journals, and other historical sources from that day in 1914. Songs and words are seamlessly woven together in one cohesive piece that continues without intermission or interruption throughout the arc of the story. We begin with "The Optimistic Departure," when young men across Europe were excited to go on an adventure they were sure would be over soon. Then comes "The Grim Reality" as the difficulties and death of battle set in. The high point is the quiet celebration of "Christmas" and the blessed "Truce," as the fighting stops and men from both sides enter "no man's land" to share stories and play games. Finally, in "The Return to Battle," the war continues as if the truce never happened, and in fact it was never repeated in such a large scale, as the war continued for another long four years.
|the cast of All is Calm with the men of Cantus
All is Calm is playing now through Saturday at Hennepin Theatre Trust's beautifully restored Pantages Theatre. If you go, be sure to check out the WWI exhibit upstairs, on loan from the Minnesota Military Museum in Little Falls. This is the second time I've seen this show, and it's one that only gets better with repeated viewing. This is my last theater experience of over 100 that I've had this year (look for my 2012 favorites to be posted around New Year's), and I can't think of a better way to end this amazing year of theater.**
|soldiers of the London Rifle Brigade pose with
German Saxons of the 104th and 106th regiments on
Christmas day, 1914. Imperial War Museum, London.
*I received two complementary tickets to opening night of All is Calm.
**I can't think of a better way to begin another amazing year of theater than going back to the Pantages to see another Latte Da production, Aida, featuring one of my favorite scores, and what could possibly be the best love triangle in all of musical theater!