The Christmas Revels you get here in Washington is wonderful and unique, but it’s not the only Christmas Revels. We’re one of 10 Revels cities across the U.S. We’re all under a national Revels organization based in Cambridge, Mass. In addition to D.C. and Massachusetts, you can see The Christmas Revels in New Hampshire; New York; Houston; Boulder, Colo.; Tacoma, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Oakland, Calif.; and Santa Barbara.
The Revels cities share scripts and major prop pieces. In 2008, someone drove a van up to Cambridge to get the flying canoe for our French Canadian production. Our show this year, Andalusian Treasures, is based on the show that Portland did last year. This year, Portland is visiting medieval England with “The King and the Fool,” which we last did in 2004.
I’ve been lucky enough to see productions in two other Revels cities. Washington’s performances are among the earliest, so it’s possible to sing in eight performances here, then travel to other cities and celebrate with them. In 2009, I went to Boston with my parents to see a version of the American show we did in 2006. It was fascinating to see another city’s take on a show I knew so well.
I particularly envied their performance space. The Cambridge production is in Sanders Theatre, this absolutely gorgeous wood-paneled hall at Harvard University. They don’t have the things you would expect in a theater, like a curtain, and it does not matter at all. Then when the audience joins hands and dances out of the theater at the end of the first half, for “Lord of the Dance,” they end up winding back and forth in this lobby with extremely high ceilings and, generally, an enchanted historical feel. The California Revels, in Oakland, has a similarly gorgeous hall, the Oakland Scottish Rite Center.
Lisner Auditorium, our Christmas Revels home since 1983, is more cavernous than intimate. The lobby doesn’t have that warm, cozy, Revels-y ambience I felt in Cambridge and Oakland. Also, we have to worry about electric shocks from feet shuffling along the carpet during “Lord of the Dance.” (Tip: Pick up your feet.) But it’s been a wonderful home, and I’m excited to be moving in there tonight for my seventh Christmas Revels tech week.