“All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914”
Playhouse on Park
Playhouse on Park is currently presenting a video stream of its beautiful and touching production of Peter Rothstein’s “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914.” Using actual firsthand accounts of soldiers from World War I, as well as songs from that period, “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” tells the amazing story about how Allied troops and German soldiers, at war with each other, put aside their differences to celebrate Christmas together in 1914. The cast assembled for this presentation is uniformly superb, with some of the most gorgeous harmonizing you will ever hear. And, even though the show is brief (just a little over an hour) and uses words and songs from 1914, its effect is much more than the sum of its parts: what Peter Rothstein has achieved with this work is a glorious and hopeful feeling of joy.
Expertly directed by Sasha Bratt, “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” was filmed outside, with the actors speaking directly to the camera, as well as singing a cappella together. The outside atmosphere only adds to the feeling of the troops actually being on the front lines during World War I, as well as the stunning and historic moment when soldiers from either side of the war managed to unite for one magical Christmas. In addition to the playwright and the director, credit for the success of this show also goes to composer Timothy C. Takach, as well as to the sublime vocal arrangements by Erick Lichte and the terrific music direction by Benjamin Rauch. Playhouse on Park has done a brilliant job of bringing “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” to glorious life and its video stream of this production ranks as a definite must-see, spreading happiness to anyone who watches this film.
Also, with this show coming during the unprecedented time of the pandemic, with live theater largely at a standstill throughout the world, the feeling of peace and harmony conjured up by this presentation of “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” is entirely welcome. The contributions of Johann Fitzpatrick, as scenic designer and lighting designer and technical director, are splendid and he works in perfect accordance with director Sasha Bratt. The behind-the-scenes creators have given its wonderful cast of twelve actor/singers the ideal platform for them to perform the show. This ensemble of performers is uniformly fine and they offer gorgeous harmonizing and song. If Lu DeJesus, Niko Touros, and Michael Hinton (the three performers listed, respectively, as “Actors 1, 2, and 3”) tend to stand out, the entire company is faultless.
It would be remiss of me to not mention all of the actors’ names: Kevin J. Andersen, Evan Benjamin, Matthew Bridgeman, Spencer Hamlin, Alex Hunt, Ryan Mancini, Michael McAvaney, Zach Reggio, and Jermaine Woodard, Jr. This group of actor/singers shine both individually and together and, delivering such period songs as “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” and “Pack Up Your Troubles,” as well as an especially sublime “Silent Night,” they bring a sense of calm and unity, which is most needed right now. In addition to the songs, the actors also speak words that were spoken or written down by the actual World War I soldiers, which only adds authenticity to the whole production.
“All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” is a remarkable work and the presentation by Playhouse on Park is absolutely ideal. As mentioned, the show only runs an hour or so, but its sense of beauty and reassurance is tremendous. It is highly recommended that one stream this video, since it is most fitting during holiday time and its message of hope is especially comforting. One looks forward to what Playhouse on Park will present next, but, for now, “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” is a real triumph, with excellent work by director Sasha Bratt and a great company of actor/singers, and it is sure to leave any viewer deeply satisfied and considerably moved.
“All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” will be able to be streamed at home until January 3, 2021. And it must be said that this show has been beautifully filmed for home viewing. For more information and tickets to stream the show, please visit www.playhouseonpark.org.