The Christmas Revels celebrates 25th year with music of the pilgrim trail

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The Christmas Revels begins Dec. 16. This year, the music, dance and storytelling of the show celebrates the medieval European pilgrimage trail to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galician Spain. Photo courtesy of Puget Sound Revels

Each year, the Puget Sound Revels puts on a Christmas extravaganza of music, dance and story. And each year’s Christmas Revels has had its own unique theme derived from a different time and place. Audiences expect a similar experience from year to year that revolves around the mid-winter themes of light and dark. The challenge is to create that experience while each year setting the production in a different time and place (Italian, Nordic, Celtic, American, Victorian, Medieval, etc.). Revels’ success is that, while it refers to ancient tradition, it has become a living tradition for the community. Some elements in the productions remain constant from year to year, whatever the theme. These have become the Revels rituals and include: The Abbots’ Bromley horn dance; the Shortest Day poem by Susan Cooper; the Lord of the Dance to end the first act and the Sussex Mummers Carol to end the show.

This year, between Dec. 16 and 20, The Christmas Revels transports audiences to Galicia (Northern Spain) where the Revels chorus will be singing, dancing, and storytelling on the Camino de Santiago — the pilgrimage path established in the ninth century. They’ll accompany one particular pilgrim on a rather extraordinary journey that involves an array of wonderful characters, sublime music, singing and celebrating. Joining the Revels Adult and Children’s Choruses are Seattle actors Todd Jefferson Moore and Bill Johns, and The Seattle Brass Ensemble. Through a wide variety of instruments, including the gaita (Galician bagpipe), folk instrumentalists Kevin Carr, Pat O’Scannell, Kendra McLean, and Jacob Breedlove will bring traditional Galician tunes to life. Audiences will detect a Scots or Irish sound in their playing because, as with Brittany in France, a Celtic past is part of Galicia’s heritage. As always, it will be a feast for the eyes and ears, a celebration for family and friends — the perfect December entertainment.

The Christmas Revels is a lively concoction of folk tradition and high art that blends adults and children, amateurs and professionals, audience and players and truly does include dancing in the aisles. Full of spirit, humor and beauty, it plays each year to audiences of all ages from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Performances are: Dec. 16 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 17 at 1 and 5:30 p.m.; Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m.; and Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Performances are held at the Rialto Theatre, 310 S. 9th St., Tacoma. For tickets and information visit pugetsoundrevels.org or call (253) 591-5894.

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