Madrigals temporarily deserts dinner service, offering lowest ticket prices in two decades


Charlotte Calmes

Leslie Burton and Aubrey Simpson served dinner to the audience of the 2019 Madrigals Dinner performances, the last year the show was able to provide food service.

The most affordable Madrigals holiday performance in 20 years takes the stage this weekend.

As a result of COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting food service, ticket prices dropped from a past average of $20 to $5 for the Chamber Choir and Madrigal singers’ Christmas concert.

While the local restaurant Times Past Inn traditionally caters dinner and dessert for the medieval-themed performance, only wassail, a Renaissance-era warm cider drink, will be served this year due to safety regulations.

This will not be the first time the Madrigals concerts have been without dinner service. It took Choir Director Mr. Ben Luginbuhl four years, he said, of hosting the holiday concert “to build up to the first year of the dinners.”

Last year’s show, too, did not include a meal.

Or an audience.

In November, the district’s decision to return to remote learning caused the choir to record their 20th-anniversary performance on the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, posting the show online.

Despite no dinner service, the performance is still “a lot more of a show than most concerts are,” Luginbuhl said.

While there will be no Renaissance feast, the show features “funny skits” performed by a court jester and serving “wench,” elaborate costumes, and a medieval castle set.

And even without dinner service, the return of a live audience is exciting for performers like senior Andrew Short.

“It’s more than just another choir concert,” Short said. “It’s a way for both the singers and the audience to connect … that’s more than just … listening to Christmas songs.”

But the setlist is still decked with Christmas classics — like “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Carol of the Bells,” and “The 12 Days of Christmas.” And the wassail won’t be the only spicy thing the performance serves up — with the Chamber Choir covering the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” in the style of an English Madrigal.

The two choirs will perform over 20 songs, mostly a capella, but some pieces are accompanied by Community’s brass ensemble.

Without dinner, the choir’s performance will move from its usual location, the multipurpose room, to the auditorium.

Doors open for Friday’s sold-out show at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are still available online for Saturday’s 1 p.m. performance, a show that Luginbuhl says “really puts you in the holiday spirit.”