Revels North (Dartmouth) — Christmas 2015, A ‘Scottish Bash’ — Was Certainly A Bash.
by Anura Guruge
>> Christmas Revels North, 2015: Songbook & Program.
>> Christmas Revels North, 2015: Scottish Highland Bash.
>> Christmas Revels 2014: RAVE.
>> Christmas Revels 2013 at Dartmouth.
>> Christmas Revels 2012 at Dartmouth.
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♥ The Scottish dancing was top class, throughout. Bravo.
♥ The harpist, Dominique Dodge, was DIVINE.
[I, though a sucker for harp music have no plans, whatsoever, of going to heaven. Which is why I try and listen to as much good harp music on earth while I can. But I imagine that is there is a heaven and they do have harpist there, as is claimed, these harpists will sound like Dominique Dodge did last night. THANK YOU, Dominique.]
♥ ‘Tàladh Chrìosta’ performed in the second-half by Dominique Dodge, who also sang as a soloist, with the ‘Teens of Dingwall’ was goose-bump inducingly magical. WOW. Thank you.
♥ The ‘Auld Lang Syne‘, with the crossed-arms and synchronized swaying, was the BEST rendition I have seen in the U.S. in the last 30 years and it made me very happy (bar for a small but crucial flaw that was an unnecessary distraction). But, Thank you. That was very good.
[Those that are familiar with this blog that I start running ‘Auld Lang Syne‘ tutorials in December to get U.S. folks to do it properly with the crossed-arms. And IF you are wondering why, as I have talked about many times, I was a bona fide, invited ‘First Footer‘ at Hogmanay, in Greenock (Scotland), for a number of years and did my duty, gladly, in kissing hundreds of Scottish lasses, right after the ‘Auld’ to make sure their New Year would be blessed.]
♥ ‘The Ballad of Tam Lin‘ was exquisitely done and I will confess that last night was the first time I fully appreciated all the nuances. Kudos.
♥ The huge wolf and eagle created for the final scene of ‘The Ballad of Tam Lin‘ was very impressive. Way to go.
♥ The two young ladies that lead the ‘Lord of the Dance‘, in Morris Dance outfits, go from strength to strength each year. Bravo.
At the end of the show we were told that this was the last show of Maureen Burford, the Artistic Director.
She was leaving after 12 years with Revels North. That is a shame. We like her work and her style.
I now realized that bar the very first Revels, that I was at Dartmouth prior to 2001, all the other Revels that we have seen at Dartmouth, since 2003, have been Maureen Burford creations. Wow. We wish you all the best Maureen.
I got a chance to briefly speak with Maureen at the intermission BUT I had no idea that it was her last show.
And end of another era.
Of course it was good. They are all good, by definition. The Revels North ‘gang’ is so dedicated, talented and charismatic. We are always in awe and admiration of what they manage to pull off, each Christmas.
Glad we went. To me Christmas would not be complete with Christmas Revels, by Revels North, at Dartmouth.
Welcome Yule. Merry Yule.
Those that know me well might have detected by now that I am not as effusive in my praise for this performance as I normally tend to be. Yes, that is indeed true. There were three and half things that marred this show for me. I think, though I am not sure, that I would have been able to overlook (maybe not gladly) and one of these 3.5 faux pas, but the totality of all 3.5 was too much. So what were these 3.5 reasons that put a damper on this performance.
1. NO Programs!
They did NOT have any programs, at all, for this show. I was told, 4 times, that all the shows had been sold out, that they sold 1,000 tickets than ever before, and as such they ran out of programs for the last show.
I do NOT buy that. This is 2015 in Hanover, NH. This is the era of the “Internet of Everything”. All the tickets were sold electronically. They should have been on top of ticket sales on a second-by-second basis. They should have started printing more programs as they saw the tickets being sold. This was a VERY POOR SHOW.
I feel really bad for those attending Revels for the first time. Without a program they were truly robbed. Mugged.
I was not amused either. I like to read the program ahead of the show and get a road-map in my head. Then during the show I do follow each act on the program. This was not cricket. This was a VERY POOR SHOW. I was livid.
This is 2015 in Hanover, NH. The world class Spaulding Auditorium, in which the show was held, as the projection equipment for “Supertitling” — i.e., displaying the ‘program’ behind the stage in large font. We saw this to great effect in 2013 when the Dartmouth Handel Society did “St. Matthew Passion“. Yes, it would have been a lot of work but they could have at least Supertitled.
Plus this is Hanover, NH in 2015. Within a 1/4 mile radius of the Hop there had to be dozens of high-quality, commercial grade laser printers. They could have just printed the 10 pages of the Program per se and handed that out with an apology.
I found the lack of a program an AFFRONT. Revels North management saying “Let them eat cake”. That at the start of the show a cast member appeared on stage and tried to make light of this and then had the temerity to say that “we could go read it online when we got home” was INSULTING. I don’t want to read the program after the fact.
IF Revels North had any class they would send each and every person that attended last night’s performance a $15 refund along with a profound apology. And I blame the Revels North Board. IF they have any sense of shame they would, before Christmas, resign in bloc. This was very incompetent. This was unacceptable. Yes, I am annoyed. Yes, I was given a program at the end, BUT that was no consolation.
2. The Master of Ceremonies wore cheap black sneakers with HUGE rubber soles with his kilt!
That was very insulting too! There is a proper way to wear a kilt. A kilt is a NATIONAL DRESS. You do NOT take liberties with a National Dress. You do not disrespect THE KILT.
That he kept on appearing at the very edge of the stage in these frigging sneakers was beyond the bloody pale. Yes, after the show I made a point of taking a photo so that you can all appreciate my sense of outrage.
OK. Maybe he had bad feet. But there is NOTHING better for bad feet than a good pair of leather brogues. There were others on stage well attired in their kilts and footwear. I am amazed that nobody told this guy that sneakers are not worn with a kilt.
I blame the MANAGEMENT for this. They should have not let this happen.
First the programs and then this. What was this. Affront the audience week?
3. One piper, who used Smallpipes most of the time.
This was, and IF you had a program you would see that, billed as a ‘Scottish Highland Celebration’. So how come we only got 2 minutes 20 seconds of Great Highland Bagpipes? The rest of the time it was bellows-powered, small pipes with the drone ‘muted’.
One piper. We had one piper, with proper Highland pipes, at our wedding and we never billed that as a Highland Celebration.
I expected that we would start proceedings with some full-blooded piping. We in New England have no shortage of good pipers. One piper with small pipes. That the Highland Pipes would have been too overpowering for an indoor event. This was Revels. Celebration. I give you, with PRIDE, the “Red Hot Chilli Pipers” with three pipers in full blast, at the ‘Capitol Center for the Arts’, in Concord, NH, in 2014. Now that was a BLAST.
To make it worse the smallpipes were not properly amplified. The first time they played, halfway through, they started sounding ‘funky’. Like somebody turned on some other instrument. In the second half, the first time they were used, the cord may have been loose, but it ‘pop’, ‘crackled’ and ‘hissed’. People noticed it. I looked around. Now if you had DRONES that would have drowned out all that interference.
4. The cute kids at the front, for the ‘Auld’, didn’t cross arms!
Well at the start I did say that the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ was done, by the adults to near perfection. But they had a dozen or so very cute kids right at the front who just held hands without them crossed. PLEASE, as a father of four, do NOT tell me that kids cannot cross their arms. The kids would have loved it. They just had to be told. You cross your arms. What gives.
After the show, as is our wont, we went across the road, to the pub, for dinner. And, of course, we talked about the show. We had taken a friend of Deanna’s. Her first Revels. NO PROGRAM. She is Scottish. She, without being asked, commented about the pipes!
Deanna noticed that there was no ‘Horn Dance’ and that is as Scottish as it can get.
Also seemed very short. When ‘Lord of the Dance’ came around we looked around at each other. Seemed it came rather fast. BUT without a program we had no idea where we were. The whole show, with the intermission, appeared to have been about 1 hour 40 minutes long. We were done well before 7pm (having started at 5pm). The Revels last week 2.5 hours long (with the 15 minute intermission).
On the way Deanna made this very telling comment: “Maybe next year we should just go to Cambridge.” Yikes! I hope not. Revels North is still OUR Revels.
Lets us see what they do to recompense for these faux pas.