The 35th annual Welcome Yule: A Midwinter Celebration
Shea Theater Arts Center, 71 Avenue A in Turners Falls
December 13-14, 7:30pm
Sunday, December 15, 2pm
Tickets: $15 for adults; $12 for youth ages 5-16 and seniors 65 & older (under 5 free)
Tickets are available at Broadside Bookshop, Northampton, MA; Amherst Books, Amherst, MA; World Eye Bookshop, Greenfield, MA; Reservations can be made at www.welcomeyule.org or firstname.lastname@example.org
The program’s storyline centers on the wisdom of trees, the power of animals and the deep magic of music. An original song composed by Colin de la Barre served as the nexus for the story development. Sheehan’s son, de la Barre participated in Welcome Yule during his childhood throughout the 1990’s. In recent years de la Barre has performed as one half of the singing duo Meridian. He joins this year’s cast as a featured singer, debuting his composition.
Over the years Welcome Yule audiences have come to expect mirth, song, dance and good cheer. This year’s highlights will include rousing harmonies, lively dances, and the use of giant puppets throughout the show.
The Abbot’s Bromley Horn Dance, a staple of the annual pageant, will be performed by the Juggler Meadow Morris Men of Amherst, Massachusetts. The horns carried by the dancers are in fact a set of caribou antlers. Though the origins of this stately English folk dance are debated, one theory holds that it served as a ritual to ensure a plentiful deer herd in the year to come. Another anticipated feature, a mummers’ play will also be included. The action of this comic folk drama centers on the death and subsequent revival of one of its characters. The speeches, delivered in rhyming couplets, are written for laughs and the puns are sure to elicit a groan or two.
Rose Sheehan, Welcome Yule founding director, returns to the valley after a 20-year hiatus in collaboration with current artistic director Liz Smith and music director Kathryn Aubry-McAvoy to mount this year’s production. Sheehan first conceived the idea for a mid-winter pageant that emphasized folk music and customs in 1985. For 15 years she served the company as artistic director. Sheehan shepherded its growth from a basement coffee house program to a full theatrical production that enjoyed many years at the Shea Theater. She is thrilled to return to direct the 35th anniversary show.