The Chorus

A Year in the Life of A Revels’ Chorus Member
by Ruth Cross

During the Fall: Adult Chorus Auditions

As auditions go, these are fairly painless. We just have to sing a song, any song, with or without accompaniment. But we're still nervous, and the most nervous are the people who have performed in Revels before; we know what we'll miss if we aren't chosen.

A Saturday in October: The First Retreat All Day Rehearsal

At 9:00 a.m., everyone involved with the show gathers together for the first time - adult chorus, children's chorus, actors, musicians, designers, directors, volunteers. We mingle for a while, greeting familiar faces, getting to know the new people. Later we all form a big circle and there are speeches, introductions and news about the show. Then the group breaks up and the chorus meets and sings together for the first time.

October through November: Saturday and Week Night Rehearsals

The chorus settles into a routine. There are rehearsals from 9:00 a.m. to noon every Saturday, and once a month another 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. retreat. An additional evening during the week is added in November.  At first we only work on the music, perfecting each phrase. Chorus members struggle to memorize the words and music, sometimes in a foreign language. Later we learn dances and add stage movements. We learn more about the culture we are celebrating in the show. The chorus begins to change from a group of individuals into an onstage community. Personalities emerge, sometimes different from the ones seen by families and co-workers.

Early to Mid-December: The Last Weeks of Rehearsals

We now rehearse in the theater. Sets are going up, lighting is added. Chorus, guest artists, actors, prop people, children and musicians merge their efforts for the first time. We wear our costumes for the first time. Something wonderful is taking shape, but it seems impossible to pull it all together in time for the first show. Our lives belong to Revels. There are rehearsals every night, some lasting until after midnight. Everyone is tired and tempers are getting short, but the sense of community grows stronger than ever through shared jokes and hard work.

The Performance Weekend

Friday night we arrive at the theater, now a familiar place. But tonight there is an audience, and that makes it all new. The show suddenly takes shape and becomes alive. The energy goes out to the audience and is returned tenfold. We do "Lord of the Dance"; for the first time, with audience and chorus mingling, singing and dancing for sheer joy. After the first show, things move quickly, one performance after another. Then suddenly, before we're ready, the final performance is over and the magic world that we've created is dismantled. After the final good-byes, we go home to get some well-deserved rest - and start worrying about next year's auditions.

Ruth has been a member of the Revels Chorus and community since Revels Houston's beginnings in 1991 with our Spring Revels show.