|New York Times, Dec. 10, 1999 (20th Anniversary Performance)
Family Fare: Many Lords A-Leaping
By LAUREL GRAEBER
If the season hasnt already turned your life upside down, you now have a chance to experience its topsy-turviness in true medieval spirit.
The occasion is the Christmas Revels, a celebration that has honored many cultures. But in this, its 20th-anniversary season, the production will return to its roots: the court traditions of the Middle Ages, in which the winter solstice was an opportunity to subvert the social order.
We create, if you will, a day in the life of the shortest day of the year,said Nancy Petaja, the producer.
And what a day it is. Geoff Hoyle, who has played Zazu in The Lion King on Broadway, will portray the court Fool, who helps resurrect the King when he is defeated by the Black Knight (a symbol of darkness). The Fool then gives the monarch a comeuppance of his own.
The King is put in stocks, and the Fool rushes around the audience trying to find someone to take his place, Ms. Petaja said.
A person is crowned and plays the Lord of Misrule for 10 to 15 minutes. Its not a difficult part, just a very embarrassing one, Ms. Petaja added. The Fool tries to find someone whos really pompous-looking.
But dont think youll be ignored if you appear meek and unassuming. Audience members are expected to join in the lusty singing that accompanies the unveiling of the wild boars head (the main course at the Feast of Fools) and to take part in The Lord of the Dance, a rousing English song and processional.
Hoyle will also choose volunteers to enact The Twelve Days of Christmas. He choreographs the verses on the spot, Ms. Petaja said.
Written by Patrick Swanson and directed by Cecil MacKinnon, the festivities will include a mummers play, as well as the Greenwich Morris Men dance troupe, the Childrens Aid Society Chorus, the Haddon Hall Wassailers, the Solstice Brass and the Ensemble for Ancient Music.
The revels last about two hours not bad for a tour of the Middle Ages.
The Christmas Revels, Friday night at 8, Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 6 p.m. at Symphony Space, Broadway at 95th Street, Manhattan, (212) 864-5400. Tickets: $21 to $33; children under 12, $11 to $17. Reservations advised.