The Brainerd High School (BHS) A Cappella and Windfall choirs are dusting off their tights, learning music and memorizing lines as they prepare for a Renaissance feast to be held at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29-30 at Cragun’s Legacy Golf Course clubhouse.
“There are a lot of plates spinning,” said Brian Stubbs, BHS Choir director. “We are getting costumes for 65, serving a meal, producing a play and singing a concert. Each evening is truly a full experience. From the moment our guests walk in the door, we work to make their night memorable.”
The night is divided into four main sections: Wassail social, dinner, masquerade (or play) and concert. Guests enter the main doors of the Legacy Golf Course Clubhouse to an array of sounds and color. The clubhouse is decked out for the season. Students dressed for the night are helping them at the doors and with their coats and trying out their best “Renaissance speak” sprinkling in a “whilst” or a “thee” or a “thou” in every sentence. Roving minstrels sing carols or play their recorders in the background, while guests have a chance to visit. The town crier soon lines everyone up for the entrance into the dining hall, announcing every guest in proclamation. Dinner is next.
“Cragun’s does all the cooking, which means it is going to be good,” said Stubbs. “Irma (Cragun) even uses a special figgy pudding recipe of her own for dessert.”
The King and his court preside over dinner, announcing each course with a trumpet fanfare and song. The rest of the students are serving the meal to the guests, with a waiter for each table. Stubbs adds, “We really want service to be good and train the students on how to be efficient. Cragun’s staff is on hand to oversee and teach, but the kids are doing the dining room serving and clearing.”
After dessert, the court jester is called on to entertain. The jester begins addressing the audience and is soon joined by the acting troupe — a band of misfits who will do anything for a laugh.
”This is when it gets really fun,” said Stubbs. “Kids audition every year for parts in the masquerade and we have a lot of fun putting it together practicing after school. Tons of corny jokes and energy make for loads of laughter.”
The night closes as the choirs surround the room and sing carols in the candle light.
“My favorite part,” said Stubbs of the carols. “Christmas music, some familiar and some maybe not, but all in an intimate setting. It marks the evening with a special touch before sending everyone home. When the King’s court sings ‘Silent Night’ and walks out, the audience always waits to clap, nobody wants to spoil the mood.” Tickets are reserved and available at the BHS main office, or by calling 454-6200. Cost is $30 and covers the four course meal, entertainment and concert. Meal planning prevents at-the-door sales and Stubbs urges reservations be made prior to Thanksgiving.
“Tickets go at a good clip and we have limited seating,” said Stubbs. “We hope to fill up the place again this year.”
Stubbs said the proceeds mainly go to pay for the event itself, such as the dinner, the script, music and costumes.
“In the future we hope to grow this into more of a fundraiser, said Stubbs. “But for now it is mostly a performance opportunity for our singers, something totally unique that they haven’t tried before. Any money we clear after costs so far go into the choir activity fund, used for transportation, tour costs, festival registration fees, meals, etc.”