I cannot say enough about how beautifully the cast sings and about how completely involved everyone is in the action and emotion of each moment.
The 11 actors are uniformly excellent with special nods to local chameleon Charlie Barron and vocal powerhouse Luke Steingruby. A solo by Steingruby towards the end of the show is hauntingly powerful and elicits absolute silence in the theater while patrons bask in its beauty. This is the show’s third consecutive year, and many of the cast members are new to the material this year. Given the stellar performances, these artists clearly connected to the material in a relatively short amount of time.
Paul Cereghino gets to open the show as he strolls on stage singing “Will Ye Go To Flanders” before the entire cast joins him onstage. You know immediately that this is going to be something special. Luke Steingruby gets the premiere piece as he does beautifully with “O Holy Night” sung in French. The entire cast is tremendous as both singers and actors including great work by Steve Isom, Ben Nordstrom, Will Bonfiglio, and Gerry Love. Charlie Barron is most effective in several roles and this marvelous cast also includes powerful characterizations by Tim Schall, Greg Lhamon, Kelvin Urday and Tyler Cheatem.
I hate Christmas. I hate the commercialism, I hate the maudlin sentiments and I hate the “entertainment” that comes with the season. If there were, in fact, an actual War on Christmas, I’d be on the frontlines shouting “Happy holidays!” at old ladies while drinking from a plain red Starbucks cup.
But I love Mustard Seed Theatre’s production of Peter Rothstein’s All Is Calm. For three years running the company has staged this a capella musical about the spontaneous Christmas truces that sprang up on the frontlines of World War I, and every year I enjoy the show more than I did the last. Director Deanna Jent and musical director Joe Schoen together craft a powerful story about peace, love and empathy that shines like a beacon in these darkening days.
Directed by Mustard Seed Theatre artistic director Deanna Jent along with musical director Joe Schoen, this hauntingly beautiful and deceptively ‘simple’ one-hour musical is masterfully performed for the third consecutive year, this time with a mostly different cast of 11 beautifully harmonized singers. The accomplished performers blend their diverse voices to affectingly give life to this century-old tale that is both touching and inspirational.
An enormously popular production when first performed by Mustard Seed in 2013, All Is Calm won five St. Louis Theater Circle awards, including Best Musical and Best Ensemble in a Musical. This year’s presentation features eight new cast members with equally impressive results.
With a script by Peter Rothstein and musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach, this story of the remarkable Christmas truce of 1914—a spontaneous outbreak of peace that occurred at multiple points along the trenches in France—combines splendid and often quite complex a cappella singing with readings of letters from soldiers and other historical documents. It’s powerfully moving and beautifully performed by a fine ensemble of eleven of our town’s most talented singing actors.