BY RUTH RICE
The medieval realm will come into the present time for two days.
The 42nd annual Madrigal Christmas Feaste will be held at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1 and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Cosgrove Student Center on the campus of Mount Aloysius College in Cresson.
The lavish, interactive dinner-theater is one of the most popular events at Mount Aloysius, and tickets are always in demand.
Cosgrove Hall, which will be decorated to look like a castle in the Middle Ages, can seat 240 people each night of the feast, said Sally Gordon, who works in the Office of Institutional Advancement and is manager of annual giving.
“Right now, there are 179 registrations for Saturday (Dec. 1) and 191 for Sunday (Dec. 2),” she said.
All tickets will be mailed upon receipt of payment, but tickets purchased after Friday can be picked up at registration the day of the event.
When tickets are presented the day of the event, guests will receive a table number.
No refunds have been given since Nov. 2, and tickets must be purchased through the Office of Institutional Advancement at 886-6525.
The event features a cast of local actors, singers and acrobats performing as nobles, wandering minstrels and jesters.
Entertainers will juggle, play musical instruments and lead guests in song and dance.
The medieval cast will be headed by James R. Dugan Jr. of Altoona as Lord of the Manor; Janet Bergamaschi of Ashville as Lady of the Manor; Jonathan O’Harrow of Altoona as Lord Chamberlain; and Michelle McGowan of Altoona as Lady Misrule, who directs the madrigal.
The remainder of the cast, including singers and wenches, comes from the student body, Mount alumni and members of the community.
The wenches are the servers and Mount Aloysius students.
“When students return to campus in the fall, they ask to be put on the list for wenching at the madrigal,” Gordon said.
The wench-toss dance is always featured because it is a feast favorite.
The family-oriented event is scripted, but the actors feed off the enthusiasm of the crowd.
Guests might see the same technical performance at each meal, but each performance is based on audience reaction.
Actors have said when the audience gets excited, it energizes the performance.
Other entertainment will feature the 12 Days of Madrigal, when audience members are urged to jump to their feet and twirl their napkins in the air.
Medieval menu choices will feature roast beef or vegetable Napoleon, along with Yorkshire pudding, bread pudding with raisin sauce, English scones, roasted vegetables and spiced tea.
The Mount’s Vox Nova Singers, under the direction of co-director Nancy Rosensteel-Way, will provide Renaissance-style songs.
Music also will include community singers and wandering minstrels between courses.
When the first madrigal was held in 1971, it involved a dinner followed by a concert in the college’s Alumni Hall as a way to say thank you to the community and to wish everyone a blessed Christmas season.
As it evolved into its current format over four decades of continuous shows, musicians, wandering minstrels, jugglers and dancers were added to the performance.
Skeptics said such a program was too sophisticated for the people of the area, but it was a success right from the start.
Audience participation is encouraged, and guests are welcome to dress in period attire and have their photographs taken with the cast of players.
If you go ...
What: 42nd annual Madrigal Christmas Feaste.
When: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1 and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 2.
Where: Cosgrove Student Center, Mount Aloysius College, Cresson.
Tickets: $40 per person or $35 for senior citizens Dec. 2 only.
Information: 886-6525 or www.mtaloy.edu/madrigal.
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