Jesters, jugglers, musicians, mimes, singers and actors — all dressed in traditional, Renaissance costume — will entertain nonstop during Westfield High's second annual "Ye Olde Valentine's Feast."
Showcasing choral and theater students in a fund-raiser for both departments, the madrigal dinner will be held this Saturday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria.
"IT'S A celebration of the Royal Court in England," explained senior Melissa Paolangeli, 17, who plays the queen of the madrigal feast. "There's a one-act play, and our royal table observes it. Later, I'm one of the madrigal singers performing a concert."
During this evening of kings, queens, candlelit tables and sumptuous food and drink, the cafeteria will be transformed into a Medieval banquet hall. Performing will be the Westfield Chamber Singers, under choral director Jessica Lardin. And student thespians directed by Zoe Dillard will present a Medieval slapstick play, "The King of Hearts," a farcical tale of royal love.
"I'm very excited — it's going to be fun," said Paolangeli. "I love the Renaissance time period, costumes and music. The cafeteria is decorated like a castle, and there's a dinner theater with wandering minstrels. My favorite part has always been the concert because we come out and mingle with the audience so there are voices all around them."
Junior Barry Armbruster, 16, is king of the madrigal feast. And since he and the queen are dating in real life, he said, "It makes it easier to play off your significant other. And it's more fun because you get to spend time together."
As king, he presides over all the feasters and acts as their monarch. "I speak in a deep voice and sit up there and look imposing," he said. "I really enjoy it; I was king last year, too. The madrigal feast is a great chance to bring a lot of performers together from both choir and theater."
"It's really an experience — so much music and acting at the same time," continued Armbruster. "And it's more intimate — the audience is right there because it's dinner theater."
Sophomore Rebecca Green portrays Lady Diaphane. "She's a mysterious wanderer, and one of the lords falls in love with her," said Green. "She's the lead female, and I like her because I'm normally shy and quiet. But she's confident and lifts her head in the air."
SARAH COWDERY, 14, plays Opal, Diaphane's servant. "She's a little crazy — she thinks she's Cupid," said Cowdery of her comic role. "But it's fun; I like playing the crazy girl because she's meddling with people and making them think they're falling in love with each other."
Junior Kevin Manship plays the lead in the one-act play. He's the jester and, throughout the story, said Manship, "He's trying to get people to take him seriously, but his humorous tendencies keep coming out. It's really fun — mostly because of the slapstick comedy; you can't help but laugh."
In the role of Randy O' Randy is freshman Ben Reese. "He's a really goofy character — loud, expressive and over-the-top," he said. "He causes trouble and woos a lot of women. I really wanted this part because he has funny lines and it's fun to play against Daniel Calabrese."
Calabrese, 15, portrays Rageous Phoolbane. "We trick one of the lords into giving us money," he said. "My character's funny and thinks he's very romantic. I love playing him because he's hilarious — he tries to pick up girls everywhere he goes."