Medieval dinner has mighty feast with many hearty guffaws

Derek Bishop, senior music major, Lyle Burrows, (center) assistant technical director to the theatre department, and Nick Gilmore, sophomore secondary education major, perform during dress rehearsal March 8.

Derek Bishop, senior music major, Lyle Burrows, (center) assistant technical director to the theatre department, and Nick Gilmore, sophomore secondary education major, perform during dress rehearsal March 8.

Alive with music, feasting and revelry, the Madrigal Dinner hosted by Southern’s Chamber Choir, swept its audience into medieval times-complete with a dysfunctional royal family and the jabs of whining peasants.

Pretty soon, I was drawn into the mix of approving “what-hos” and laughter.

In the plot of the show, King Budwin, played by Bud Clark, head of the music department, received a surprise visit from his mother-in-law which made the common people cringe. (The queen’s mother, played by Lyle Burrow, assistant technical director of the theatre department, was equally detested by the king as the queen, played by Dr. Susan Smith, associate professor of music.)

The feasting hall was magnificent with elaborate table decorating and banners hung from the rafters and a throne fit for the king, or rather the queen and her mother since the king was booted off to his own kiddy table.

The plot was basic, which allowed for a lot of humor and an occasional ad-lib from the characters. The jokes usually centered around the appearance of the queen and her mother, but the comments never really got too old.

The characters themselves were just as colorful as their costumes, which were made by Linda Boles.

One of my favorite characters was the queen’s mother. Burrow filled the robes, wig, and crown of the large and in-charge lady. His goatee was the perfect finishing touch. One pirate, played by Paul Whetstone, sophomore music major, exclaimed that the queen mother’s, “five o’clock shadow is way past midnight.”

Burrow’s hilariously high falsetto voice was quite impressive. I couldn’t help but laugh every time he spoke. There were a few times he dropped a couple octaves to a deep man’s voice when he, or she, wanted to intimidate someone, such as the king. The queen’s mum also spontaneously started barking in the middle of a knighthood contest. I don’t think that was planned, but it was the little random things coming from the choir and the crowd’s mouths that really made us roll with laughter. Needless to say, the rest of the audience couldn’t help but laugh at the queen’s hairy mother.

The crowd made themselves quite at home opening night. They threw out comments whenever and however they pleased, which really made the night entertaining. It didn’t really matter that there were a couple of missing or forgotten lines and cues, the audience was so relaxed and entertained, I think it rubbed off on the characters.

Each table in the hall had a table master. This guest added such complimenting and criticizing toasts as “Roses are red, violets are blue, the queen is fat and her mother is too.”

I was surprised at the liberty the characters took to include the audience.

One table master who claimed to be from the Province of Nascar (what a racing fan) was later put in the stocks but he was freed after receiving a kiss from some young women in the crowd.

One of the highlights of the night for the crowd was when four men were picked to act out “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Their unpracticed falsettos were not as clear as the queen mother’s, but still entertaining. The sarcastic and down-to-earth scripts were very funny as well.

The crowd was practically rolling with laughter at times.

In fact the audience contributed so much, especially at the beginning of the show, that by the end of the toasts, the table masters said, “Let’s eat.”

It took forever to finally get them to stop toasting so they could eat. My only complaint is the length, which is too be expected the first night. It would help if the extent of crowd participation was cut down a little in future.

On the other hand, the food was prepared and served very courteously by the choir members. You would’ve thought most of them were theatre majors, not music majors but performance is important and they did a wonderful job.

I really have to commend the choir on their vocal performance. I was surprised at the sound of their voices blending as they wandered around the banquet hall weaving their voices in and out of one another’s. They did an excellent job with expression as a whole, though there were some faces that weren’t as exciting to watch as others’ were. I really was impressed with the performance. It was entertaining and engaging, and I highly recommend it for those wishing to go see future Madrigal Dinners. In the spirit of the jolly night, I give it a hearty “what-ho.”