Wabash Area Community Theater and the Honeywell Center will present two opportunities to participate in the Madrigal Dinner in early December. Guests can choose to attend on Friday, Dec. 6 or Saturday, Dec. 7 with both events beginning at 6:30 p.m. To assure reserved seating, guests are encouraged to make reservations by Tuesday, Dec. 3.
Guests will begin congregating in the main lobby where they will be assigned to a specific English shire for seating in the grand hall (Legacy Hall) for the dinner. Shires represented will be Cornwall, Yorkshire, Dorset, Cheshire, Surrey, Kent, Devon, and Suffolk.
While assembling in the lobby, guests will be greeted by the lord and lady singers representing their shire and entertained by a brass ensemble, Father Christmas, the magician, fortuneteller, jester and wench. The court singers will sing, followed by the Lord Chamberlain and Town Crier announcing the beginning of the festivities as the Lord and Lady of the manor (Ham Sadler and Beth Perkins) are introduced.
Beefeater guards then escort the royalty to the grand hall where they will preside over the evening's festivities. Guests are then escorted to the hall by the page for their shire and their hosting singers. Upon arrival, their senses will be transported back to another era as the hall is decorated and pageantry represents an English manor in the year 1475.
Each course of the gourmet dinner is introduced by a brass fanfare and the litter bearers bringing the food for the Lord's approval before being served to the guests. The evening's menu consists of a dinner salad, a wassail toast, and a roast pork loin dinner including sweet potato casserole and green beans, and dessert of bread pudding. The courses follow the traditional outline for a madrigal feast with the wassail toast, the boar's head, and the figgy pudding.
Entertainment in the grand hall during dinner will include a singing nuns' chorus, wandering musicians, as well as the fortuneteller, wench, and the fun and frolic of the court jester. Guests will be treated to the humor of a short cutting from Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream" performed by the mummers. Actors in the skit include Jonathan Cornell, Gary Dale, Eric Seaman, Mike Chenault, Ron Frischman, and Charlie Dye. The court singers entertain throughout the evening, including a short "concert" with surprise guests appearing and the concluding event of the evening, the nativity scene. This core group of singers includes Peggy Coppler, Lauren Millspaugh, Jan Douglas, Laura Eppley, Susan Jones, D'Ann Stouffer, Sarah See, Mark Williamson, Todd Dazey, Ware Wimberly, Kurt Krauskopf, Gregg Reed, Wesley Dunnagan, Bruce Green, added to the voices of Lord Ham and Lady Beth. Audience participation will be encouraged during the evening.
Guests who have attended madrigal dinners in the past will notice changes in the script and music, adding freshness to the pageantry. The planning committee made a conscious effort to include Christmas carols from several English shires. "Rejoice and Be Merry" was found in a church gallery book in Dorset; "We've Been Awhile A-Wandering" comes from Yorkshire; "Gloucestershire Wassail" hails from the shire with its name; "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" comes from the West Country; "Coventry Carol" and "Sussex Carol" come from shires of their name; "Deck the Hall" is native to the country of Wales, England's neighbor to the southwest.
The complete cast includes 55 performers. In addition to the Lord and Lady of the Manor, the court singers, and the mummers, the cast includes Eric Shoening as Lord Chamberlain; Ron Frischman as Town Crier; John Minkler as Jester; Trey Wright as Jester-in-training; Beth Miller as the Wench; Mike Malooley and Ken Perkins as Beefeaters; Gary Dale and Mike Chenault as Litter bearers; Sophie France as the Sprite; Denise Stouffer as Fortune teller; Charles Chapman and Cary Coppler as Father Christmas (one each evening); Jim Snapp as Magician; Diane Eshelman, Kathleen Frank, Eileen Dye, Jane Willmert, and Cindy Rich as the Nuns' Chorus; Rod Morrison and Jane Willmert as Wandering Minstrels; Carolyn Eppley, Josh Cortez, Dan Servos, Lindsay Knee, and Kaitlyn Whinery as the Brass ensemble; Missy Lundmark as the Dancer at the Manger; Dayna Dale, Zayne Hunter, Suzi Sapusek, Amira Siddiqui, Lexi Wright, Nathanael Fadil, Ellie Proebstle and Erin Proebstle as pages.
The planning committee is Beth Miller and Charly Dye, serving as co-producers, assisted by Judy Ward, Jane Willmert, Ham Sadler, Denise Stouffer plus the staff at Honeywell Center. Judy Ward serves as music director for the production. Carolyn Eppley and Lindsay Knee are directing the brass ensemble; Jane Willmert is directing the nuns' chorus. Beth Miller and Charly Dye lead speaking cast rehearsals. Denise Stouffer is the costumer for the event. Vicky Malooley will serve as stage manager.
Tickets are on sale at the Honeywell Center box office. The price includes the gourmet dinner plus a full evening of entertainment. For tickets, call 260-563-1102 by Dec. 3 to ensure your seating.