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"All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914," show #849

CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre is wrapping up their purely stellar production of Peter Robinson’s brainchild of musical history, All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, an all-sung/narrated docu-musical telling of the Christmas truce between WWI British and German soldiers. Complemented by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach’s musical arrangements, All is Calm hits all the right notes to deliver a compelling, entertaining, and historically moving context. Director Susan Kehler and musical director Roger Bergman are to be given major kudos for their profound work on this production, where the ensemble of men get out of the way of the message by simply singing and telling the story the soldiers wrote in letters, clippings, and diaries. The story is the star and, lucky for Valley audiences, we have a chorus of singer/actors who give gorgeous voice to this story not-oft told.

(Cast of All is Calm; Photo source: CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre)

There is a momentum to musicals like All is Calm, where the structure and order of songs not only play a role in the storytelling but are crucial to allowing for the impact to be felt when it must. The timing and technical designs must be in lockstep, and that lockstep is widely apparent in CenterStage’s production. With full credit and applause deserved to the cast, Dan Aldape’s lighting design is a triumph. The lighting is moody, intimate, and it never lets you forget that these men are fighting in the first world war while still finding moments of peace; at its core, it’s exceptional work. Ginger Lewis-Reed’s costumes do the job in giving 1914 aesthetics to the various soldiers while letting the men portray different nationalities and ranks of military with the swiftest of adjustments. Madison Alley’s stage direction paints stage picture after picture, with pleasing consistency in the men’s asides and takes to the audience.

(Cast of All is Calm; Photo source: CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre)

The cast booms with the all-sung vocals and crisp cutoffs. The different dialects are pristine in delivery, whether in song or in speech, and add to the world-building of 1914 WWI no-man’s-land aura. Every vocalist is dynamite throughout the show, but it’s really when the men are in unison or company-wide harmony that the feeling All is Calm wants the audience to ride swells to that magical level only live theatre can provide. It’s felt, it’s dramatic, and it’s a blanket you don’t want to unravel from. The--what would be--11 0’clock number, “Silent Night,” which is sung in both German and English, goes on longer than expected, and that’s the correct length. It’s a crescendo of emotion that is contagious from stage to audience, and it’s that feeling that is the reward for the work being done.

All is Calm has performances today at 2pm and 8pm, playing at, the appropriately set, Clovis Veterans Memorial District theater. For the war buffs, Christmas fans, or simply lovers of quality theatre, go see this show!

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