Since its beginning, Revels has involved children. As an educator as well as singer/performer, Revels founder Jack Langstaff was always sure to bring the energy and excitement of children into almost all aspects of the show. This is somewhat unusual, especially when it comes to choral music, as age segregation in performance groups seems to be the norm. To find a truly inter-generational singing environment is pretty darn rare (inter-generational these days seems to mean having seniors in your chorus!)
This year’s show involves 15 kids of varying ages (from 7-13), three boys and twelve girls, as well as four teens. The children’s chorus rehearses separately from the adults most of the time, but the teens are incorporated into the adult chorus and attend all adult rehearsals. Kids, like adults, become entranced with Revels and we have quite a few repeat performers. All of the teens have been in the Revels children’s chorus in the past, and seven of the fifteen children were in last year’s show.
I know from personal experience how engaged kids get in the music and the magic. When my son was in the children’s chorus, through some mystical osmosis he would learn all of the songs (including ones that weren’t his!) and a good bit of the lines as well. That’s pretty common as I’ve heard from current and past Revels parents.
Revels kids represent talented children from all over Portland. Schools they currently attend include Portland Village School, Rosa Parks, MLC (Metropolitan Learning Center), Cedarwood Waldorf School, the Renaissance School, Holy Redeemer and Bonny Slope Elementary.
In the past, Revels kids attended St. Mary’s, Cleveland High School, da Vinci Middle School, Buckman Elementary, and Portland Waldorf to name a few. Some years it seems like most of the kids go to the same school; in one recent year it was the Portland Village School.
Children’s chorus members must audition, just like the adults. And those kids rehearse just as hard as the adults, meeting every Monday from September to December for two hours, as well as attending our mega rehearsals which are weekend-long events. Tech week – the week that the show launches – brings its own challenges. Early on we learned to let the kids go home at a decent hour, even if the adults plow on til eleven or later (my own son fell asleep on stage once after a particularly grueling week).
In the able bodied hands of choir director Regina Pirruccelo and kids’ backstage manager Shari Goss, the kids get to know each other, their music, dance, staging and the fun of putting on a full-fledged Revels.
And what happens to those Revels kids when they grow up?
Some have gone on to careers in the arts including Ryan Heller who is the director of Chorus Austin, Signe Larsen, an actress and teacher at Oregon Children’s Theater, Sienna Miller undertaking a career in opera, and Rafe Larsen and Madison Rowley who are both cinematographers. Incidentally, Madison is the World Record holder of the Best Beard…. http://www.worldbeardchampionships.com/results). You can see Madison, and his beard, at this year’s show, dancing the Lord of the Dance with his similarly bearded father, Charley.
Over hundred teens and about one hundred seventy children have been part of the Portland Christmas Revels community through the years. May Revels kids past and present keep a song in their hearts and the Revels spirit forever after.