THE CHORUS OF WESTERLY PRESENTS A CELEBRATION OF TWELFTH NIGHT 2012

The 38th Annual Production Marks George Kent’s Final Twelfth Night as Music Director

The show will go on and continue for many years, but the Chorus of Westerly’s 2012 production of A Celebration of Twelfth Night, running Saturday, January 14 and Sunday, January 15 at 1, 4, and 8 pm (with a preview performance on Friday, January 13 at 7:30 pm) in Westerly’s George Kent Performance Hall, marks a bittersweet ending. This January’s edition of A Celebration of Twelfth Night will be the emotional final edition of this holiday tradition with George Kent as its music director. Kent, who has served as music director of the Chorus of Westerly since 1959 and of Twelfth Night for all 38 years of its existence, will be retiring next June. To make sure Mr. Kent’s final Twelfth Night is a celebratory event of the grandest size and scope, over 365 individuals are a part of this year’s Twelfth Night production as singers, actors, acrobats, dancers, jesters, and more. Combined, this year’s Twelfth Night features the largest force of performers in the show’s acclaimed history.

Tickets for all performances of A Celebration of Twelfth Night 2012 are now on sale ($18-$68). Tickets are also on sale for the annual Twelfth Night Peasants’ Feast, a special light dinner with extra on stage entertainment served in the performance hall at 6 pm (between the 4 pm and 8 pm performances) on both January 14th and January 15th. Tickets for the shows and the feast are available by calling the Chorus of Westerly Box Office at 401-596-8663 or through the web at chorusofwesterly.org. All Twelfth Night events take place in the historic George Kent Performance Hall located at 119 High Street in Westerly, Rhode Island. Kent Hall is handicap accessible.

Stage directing A Celebration of Twelfth Night for his eleventh year is noted local director Derron Wood of New London’s Flock Theatre. Joining the Twelfth Night team for 2012 is Khadija Griffith as the production’s new choreographer. Ms. Griffith has extensive dance experience both in the United States and in Europe, and is currently dancing with Zoe/Juniper, Adele Myers and Dancers, and CONNetic Dance. She is the 2011 recipient of the Connecticut College Dance Award.

The Chorus of Westerly’s production of A Celebration of Twelfth Night has been a Westerly tradition since 1975. Each year an originally written script, penned now by former Chorus of Westerly treble Harvey Blanchette, is created to serve as the basis of the performance. The play (which might also be best described as a pageant) always includes a traditional struggle between good and evil framed around a European court style Twelfth Night celebration. Add to this mix celebratory entertainment by dancers, acrobats, and court jesters, as well as astounding puppets, beautiful poetry, and a large soundtrack provided by the Chorus of Westerly and Boston Festival Brass and you have a typical A Celebration of Twelfth Night production.

Twelfth Night in our age is Epiphany, the last of the twelve festive days of Christmas. It is considered to be, particularly in the western world, “The Feast of Fools” – the day where all that is familiar is reversed. For example, in the courts of Europe in the Middle Ages, it was the day where a servant could find a bean in his piece of cake and reign for a night as King, or, in churches, choir boys might be able to celebrate mass as priests. Many different Twelfth Night celebrations, similar to the one presented by the Chorus but with local twists and variations, still take place in the major cultural capitals of the world. In November 2008, the Boston Globe honored the Chorus of Westerly’s A Celebration of Twelfth Night by naming it one of the world’s very best Twelfth Night celebrations along with those in London and Washington, DC.

In 2009, playwright Harvey Blanchette created a new framework in which A Celebration of Twelfth Night was to be presented: a massive five year story arc. Blanchette’s arc is set in a mythical world composed of four geographically and culturally separate kingdoms – Mirden (water), Zhora (earth), Kasai (fire), and Mahabalah (air). In the first three years of the arc, set in Mirden (2009), Zhora (2010), and Kasai (2011), audiences were introduced to a mythical world threatened by a dark and powerful menace. But, this world finds hope for light and unity in the coming of a Chosen One born in the first year who will, by the end of the arc next year, unite all the kingdoms.

This January, the fourth chapter of this saga will take place set in the mythical air kingdom – based in a Hindu-style setting – of Mahabalah. While each show within the five-year arc directly relates to the others, the productions are also designed to be “free standing” performances so that audience members can still see a given year’s performance without having to have seen another. The traditional Twelfth Night ceremonies, such as the audience King and Queen “Cake” scene, the Abbott’s Bromley Horn Dance, and the Boar’s Head Carol are still included in each show.

The cast of A Celebration of Twelfth Night 2012 again will feature talented professional and volunteer actors, dancers, and production staff from across the northeast. The core of the show is 365 volunteer actors and singers (including children and adults, the youngest of which is two years old) from over thirty communities in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Rehearsals for the performers take place in a very brief period of time. Rehearsals begin on December 26 and run daily through the opening of the show just under three weeks later. The volunteer core of actors is joined on stage by acclaimed Nova Scotian vocalist Paula Rockwell as Garuda, veteran New York actor James Lawson as Father Christmas, Westerly native and New York actor Andrew Lidestri as Ahriman, and local actor Geoff Leatham as Rob. The Boston Festival Brass and Percussion will join George Kent and the Chorus of Westerly to provide the production’s musical element.

James Lawson, a professional actor from New York City and native of Charlestown, Rhode Island, will return to the production once again as Father Christmas. Lawson, who has an MFA in performance from FSU’s Apolo Conservatory, has been seen on stages throughout Europe and the United States in a variety of theatre and opera roles. Lawson has been a Twelfth Night regular now for over a decade playing Father Christmas in most of those years.

Paula Rockwell, a professional vocalist from Nova Scotia, is returning to A Celebration of Twelfth Night in the role of Garuda after playing Kagu in the 2011 production. Ms. Rockwell has performed with Chorus of Westerly on many occasions, and is on the faculty of the University of Acadia.

Bringing entertainment and laughter to Twelfth Night audiences is jester Michael Miclon. Miclon, returning for his fourth Twelfth Night, has brought his high energy antics to some of the finest theaters and special events across the United States and Europe. Recent highlights include performances at the Kennedy Center, the White House, the Keller Theater in Germany, the Victoria Jungfrau Hotel in Switzerland, and the Festa Americana in Italy. Miclon will also be bringing with him to Twelfth Night his three sons as the show’s new Junior Jesters. The Miclon Boys, all talented teenage jesters and acrobats themselves, are at the beginning of their professional careers and will delight Westerly audiences. The oldest Miclon boy, Shane, appeared as a Junior Jester in last year’s Twelfth Night.

The Chorus of Westerly’s performance of A Celebration of Twelfth Night is presented through major support from Webster Bank, Marion Palm, The Blue Mitten Thrift Shop and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. The Chorus is also thankful of its media sponsors for the event: Sun Publishing, Classical 95.9 FM WCRI, The New London Day, and WBLQ 1230 AM.

For further information about this performance or for tickets, please call Lee Eastbourne at the Chorus of Westerly Box Office at 401-596-8663 or visit chorusofwesterly.org.

Tickets for all performances of A Celebration of Twelfth Night and the Peasants’ Feast, ranging from $18-$68, are now on sale. Tickets are available by calling the Chorus of Westerly Box Office at 401-596-8663 or by visiting chorusofwesterly.org. All performances take place in the historic George Kent Performance Hall located at 119 High Street in Westerly, Rhode Island. Kent Hall is handicap accessible.

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