CRESTVIEW — The Crestview High School chorus’ Madrigal Dinner was a delightful evening of music, theatre, feasting and frivolity, punctuated by some wonderfully awfully bad jokes, lavish costumes and a sumptuous meal.
More than 80 student performers under choral music director Kevin Lusk's direction wove a charming spell as wenches and peasant lads served the delicious four-course banquet.
Just as the lead actors outdid themselves in their performance of a comedy set in 15th-century England, instructor Paula Knight’s culinary arts students excelled in preparing a delicious Cornish hen dinner.
Then hen was roasted to perfection, its skin browned, crisp and seasoned just right with a herb mixture. The white meat was juicy, just the way I like it. A close rival was the excellent Barley Potage, a soup that had just the right amount of spice to give it a nice kick.
Fun and funny
But the show: oh my, what fun we had!
Michael Brooks, whom we enjoyed in the school drama program’s fall production “Dear Ruth,” was exuberantly goofy as the court jester, the evening’s master of ceremonies who becomes involved in a plot by recently disgraced nobleman Merton to unseat his majesty the king.
Sean Rush, as Merton, was a fun combination of swashbuckling swagger and calculating guile. Trevor Vaughn’s king had the right degree of pomposity coupled with a dignified regal bearing.
No good Renaissance tale would be complete without a sorceress, and Paula Cooke as Morgana Werechild not only boasted an elegant evilness, her name also set up an amusing running gag: “Werechild?” “There child.”
The allusion to Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” wasn’t the only gag that probably had to be explained to the student performers, none of whom were born when the 1974 film opened. “Send in the guards!” was usually followed by, “Don’t bother; they’re here,” a poke at “Send in the Clowns” from Stephen Sondheim’s musical “A Little Night Music.”
There’s also a hysterical reference to a Barry Manilow hit:"I right the wrongs that make the whole world ring," Morgana intoned duirng the first act.
Great night of performances
With Angeles Alexander as the lovely, perky queen and a cast drawn from the Chanticleer and Destiny show choirs, the elite Chorale and the Men’s and Women’s Choruses, the biennial Madrigal Dinner was a fun, lighthearted evening of great food and great entertainment.
Lusk having reconfigured the performance venue so the head table ran the room's length rather than at one end assured there was no bad seat in the house, with the result being a more intimate and audience-engaging evening. So engaging, in fact, that a couple audience members were "recruited" to be extras during the show.
The evening concluded all too soon with a brief concert of lovely traditional Christmas songs, including audience accompaniment on “Silent Night,” a highlight for me being the simple, beautiful “Still, Still, Still.”
Those who missed the Madirgal Dinner can endulge in the music, if not the food and theatrics, tomorrow night when the Crestview High chorus presents its Christmas concert, 7 p.m. in the Pearl Tyner Auditorium. The $5 adult, $2 child, admission is a small price to pay for the spirit-lifting voices of the season, and it benefits the chorus' expenses toward its trip to Nashville in the spring.
Contact News Bulletin Arts & Entertainment Editor Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.