“All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” will preview at the Waterfront Playhouse on Dec. 8 in time for the holidays.
Written by Peter Rothstein with musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach, the musical was developed and produced in December 2007 in Minneapolis and premiered in New York in 2018.
The show features over 30 songs and carols from World War I, all sung a cappella by the nine-member cast. Interspersed throughout are letters, articles and journal entries by the men who put down their guns to meet their enemies in No Man’s Land, the area between the two battlefronts during the trench warfare of World War I.
On creating “All Is Calm,” author Peter Rothstein writes: “I studied World War I in high school and college, but I don’t remember reading about the Christmas Truce in any of my textbooks. If I had, I certainly would have remembered. This extraordinary event took place in 1914, the first year of the war, and was never repeated. Thousands of men put down their guns and left their trenches to meet their enemies in No Man’s Land. They exchanged gifts of tobacco, rum and chocolates. They sang songs, played a game of soccer, and buried each other’s dead. Upon orders from above, they eventually returned to their trenches and re-instigated a war that would last four more years. So why did I not learn of this remarkable event? The propaganda machine of war is powerful, and news of soldiers fraternizing across enemy lines would put a human face on the Germans and readily undermine public support for the war. The heroes of this story are the lowest of the ranks — the young, the hungry, the cold, and the optimistic — those who acted with great courage to put down their guns, overcoming a fear that placed a gun in their hands in the first place. Their story puts a human face on war.
“The music ranges from trench songs to patriotic and sentimental tunes, as well as Christmas music from the participating countries. The text is taken from a wide range of sources including letters, journals, official war documents, poetry, gravestone inscriptions — even an old radio broadcast. So, here are the words and the songs of these remarkable men.”
It is directed by Tom Thayer, Waterfront managing artistic director, designed by Michael Boyer and musically directed by Nancy 3 Hoffman. It will preview on Wednesday, Dec. 8 with the grand opening and opening night party on Thursday, Dec. 9.
The cast includes Canter O’May, Joshua Lawson, Andrew Theede, Tim Dahms, Kevin T. Mazur, Matthias Maloff, Chris Homberg, Jim Speake and JT Thompson.
It plays at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, Dec. 8-25. (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Tickets can be purchased by visiting waterfrontplayhouse.org or calling 305-294-5015.