Westfield Students Offer Gala Madrigal Dinner

Westfield Students Offer Gala Madrigal Dinner

Hear ye! Hear ye! An evening of merriment, music and theater — plus a catered, candlelit dinner — is in store for those attending Westfield High's "Ye Olde Valentine's Feast."

Set for Tuesday, Feb. 10, the school's Chamber Singers and actors from the Theater Department are joining together to present a special event in the grand tradition of medieval, madrigal dinners. It's at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria, and tickets are $25/person.

It's a fund-raiser for both the Choral and Theater departments and promises to be a rousing evening of delicious food and non-stop entertainment. Tickets are only available in advance; call 703-488-6431.

ALL TICKET ORDERS must be received by Thursday, Feb. 5. Those ordering must tell the number of people coming, plus the full name of every person in their party. "And if there are any couples in the party, also give their names," said Choral Director Jessica Lardin. "We have something special planned for them."

In honor of Valentine's Day, the cafeteria will be transformed into a banquet hall in a medieval castle. Artistry Catering of Chantilly is providing a full-course feast of: Beef brisket, vegetables, dessert, wassail and other beverages.

Guests will be at flower-adorned, candlelit tables, and the entertainment will come to them. Instead of a stage, it'll be like theater-in-the-round. Student performers will be in full, Renaissance costume, dressed as lords, ladies, servants, pages, king, queen, jester, town crier and more.

Throughout the evening, attendees will see and hear beautiful choral music, enjoy a farcical medieval play and be entertained by a flute ensemble, a brass group and a Celtic harpist. There'll be both Renaissance and modern songs and, said Lardin, "We'll even be singing a Renaissance-style arrangement of the Beatles' 'Can't Buy Me Love.' It's really funny."

The love-themed play, "Fools Fall in Love," features a slapstick tale of a court jester, student Derek Rommel, who falls in love with Robin d'Cradle, portrayed by Carolyn Agan — a female version of himself.

In addition, a troupe of theater students not in the play will roam around like a madcap band of royal entertainers, miming, juggling and sword-swallowing. "There'll be entertainment of some type at each table, at all times," said Lardin. "And there'll be opportunities for the audience to participate, as well."

A TOTAL OF nearly 80 students are taking part — 34 Chamber singers, 20 drama students, 15 musicians and 10 choral students acting as servers. "And all the servers will also be in costume," said Lardin. "It's going great — we're really excited about it. We hope it'll be a tradition that we'll start as an [annual] fund-raiser for our Choral and Theater departments."

The whole event is truly a collaboration between students from both departments. Indeed, Drama Director Scott Pafumi is directing the actors, and his theater-tech students are building all the sets and providing the sound and lighting for the show. Two theater moms, Valerie Armbruster and Maria Vetsch, are making the costumes.

"One of the reasons it's such a neat thing to do is because we're seeing more and more kids signing up for both theater and chorus," said Lardin. "So it's kind of a natural to combine them."

Although only a few years old, Westfield continues to be a school of firsts. Before Christmas vacation, Lardin's choral students presented a huge and very successful cantata — the first ever by a Fairfax County school. Now, Westfield is offering a Renaissance-type, madrigal dinner.

"We hope to see folks come out [for this event] as we begin yet another, new tradition at Westfield," said Lardin — herself, an accomplished choral performer. "I think people will have a good time and think it's really fun. It'll be a great evening and a great way to celebrate Valentine's Day while supporting our school."