Fourth And Final? I Think Not- Presentation of “All Is Calm” at Mustard Seed

all-group1As most people were saying after opening night of Mustard Seed Theatre’s fourth annual “All Is Calm- The Christmas Truce Of 1914,” we hope this isn’t really the final presentation. Different casts, returning members, new singers- it all adds up to one thing- this is a holiday tradition that must go on.

If you’re one of the few folks in St. Louis who has not yet experienced this lovely and haunting piece of theatre, get your tickets now. The show has been extended again this year and will now play through December 11th. Citing real letters and documents from this World War I phenomenon, an a cappella group of ten men use songs of the period to retell the story of one Christmas Eve in 1914 when Allied and German soldiers were close enough to be heard by each other and started serenading each other with songs from their respective countries. Folk songs, Christmas carols and the like could be heard floating across no-man’s land and, eventually, even that wall was broken as they greeted each other, exchanged souvenirs and continued to sing until the next day when “war” broke out again.

all-posterIt’s an uplifting story and you get to meet a myriad of men through their own words as each story leads into another song. As usual, I finally broke down over “Silent Night” or “Stille Nacht” which, of course, resonates with the title of the show. A few changes have been made to this year’s edition, but the message and power of the piece remains. From the haunting opening of “Will Ye Go To Flanders” through the traditional “It’s A Long Way To Tipperary” and “Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag,” the spirit of war and camaraderie prevail. And, of course, the holiday music includes “The First Noel,” “Angels We Have Heard On High” and the haunting rendition of “O Tannenbaum.”

A strong cast of singers adds to the beauty of “All Is Calm” as the harmonies resonate from the tenors and baritones to the powerful bass voices that seem to shake the rafters (if there were any rafters). Paul Cereghino, Kent Coffel, Steve Isom, Steve Jent and Gregory Lhamon join Gerry Love, the returning (from his new success in Chicago) Antonio Rodriguez, the rich voice playing the opera singer soaring with “O Holy Night,” Luke Steinburgy, Kevin Urday and Jeff Wright. It’s an ensemble that not only sings remarkably well together, but really displays the spirit of true comrades that unite in a war none of them want.

Deanna Jent, artistic director of Mustard Seed, once again directs with a flair for the dramatic and pulling the heartstrings. Joe Schoen returns as musical director and the Kyra Bishop set, Michael Sullivan’s lights and costumes of Jane Sullivan make the complete package. I look forward to the Rep’s return of the holiday classic, “A Christmas Carol” and I appreciate the other shows of the season that inevitably show up on local stages, but “All Is Calm” is a holiday tradition that needs to extend ad infinitum.

all-group2With the extension through December 11th, it’s more important than ever to catch this beautiful story (only about an hour long) before it possibly gets put into the vault. Mustard Seed Theatre has created a monster that everyone loves and looks forward to- give them a call at 314-719-8060 for tickets or more information. This truly is a must-see.

 

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