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October 31, 2006

Vassals will feaste on fun at medieval holiday dinner



The Lord and Lady of Cosgrove Hall will host a medieval banquet to entice visitors to Mount Aloysius College in Cresson for its 36th annual Madrigal Christmas Feaste.

The interactive dinner theater is expected to perform for three sell-out crowds, so reservations are recommended, said Michelle McGowan of Altoona, who has been involved with the madrigal for 35 years and portrays the Lady of Misrule.

The Middle Ages-style event, which features a cast of local actors, singers and dancers, will be held Dec. 1-3.

The event is so popular that performances normally are sold out. Limited tickets remain.

The fun-filled event will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2 and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 3.

“It’s a five-course meal with nothing but fun in between courses,” McGowan said. “We’re also bringing back the flaming raisin toss, which we haven’t done for about 10 years.”

The performance centers around such jesters as Hazzah, played by Scott Stuttard of Al-toona, and the Lady of Misrule.

They lead the guests in songs and dances, such as “Wench Toss” and “The 12 Days of Madrigal,” in which audience members are urged to jump to their feet, shout and spin their napkins in the air.

The skits depend on audience participation.

“It’s different every night because actors feed off the audience participation and everything depends on their enthusiasm,” McGowan said.

The madrigal is a Christmas feast in which the lord and lady of the highest manor invite the public, or vassals, for dinner.

The lord and lady of the manor will be played by Jan Bergamaschi of Ashville and James Dugan of Altoona, longtime madrigal players.

Performers include a brass quartet and three groups of wandering minstrels who will walk among the tables, encouraging people to join in the fun.

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