PHOTO: Davis High teacher Karen Gardias expresses her gratitude to those who made the event possible and thanks the audience, continuing the performance by reading off a scroll.
By Lyah Fitzpatrick,
Among the array of garlands, centerpieces, plastic shrubbery and glinting silverware, lights surrounded the evening diners and spotlighted the Madrigals choir. Although the Madrigals team faced hidden obstacles masked by ornate decoration, the show ran smoothly.
Both Friday and Saturday nights, people of all ages streamed into the California Museum of Agriculture banquet hall for the annual holiday dinner. Last year, the medieval-themed event was held in the Davis High All Students Center, and this year’s Woodland location was new. To senior Madrigal Andrea Leung, the venue shift proved beneficial.
“Even though the ASC is very near and convenient, the Ag. museum is larger and we had more time to decorate and prepare,” Leung said. She called this year’s show “amazing” and “the best one out of [her] three years.”
For dinner coordinator Jennifer Chapman, adjusting to the new location was a challenge. However, “the staff […] were very helpful in orienting us with their facility.”
There were technical challenges accompanying the site change as well. According to teacher Karen Gardias, who has been running the Madrigals program for 26 years, the group only had an hour and a half for dress rehearsal. Light and sound testing also had to be stuffed into the limited time slot.
Thankfully, the Madrigals were able to pull everything together.
“I actually thought that [Friday] was really great, especially with so little dress rehearsal time […] I thought [Saturday] went really well as well, but I thought they were cleaner [the day before],” Gardias said.
On top of a new location, a new caterer “Randy Peters” was rented for the show. “There are always unknowns when […] working with a catering company that is new to you,” Chapman said.
However, the cuisine was a success as well. The catering service prepared the three courses while volunteer servers waited tables. Senior Catie Fee was one of the many dinner attendees.
“The food was delicious,” Fee said. “And the Agriculture History Museum was a cool place to have it.”
The performance itself was full of clever scripting and brilliant voices.
“I felt the choir performed beautifully and of course, I cried during my daughter Emily’s duet,” Chapman said. Also, according to Madrigals stage manager Brooke Ostrom, the group “really brought a lot of their own ideas and personality to the script.”
With a number of Madrigals from different countries, six different languages were incorporated into the show. Song lyrics paralleled the spectators’ dining experience, with acts including goblets and, this year, a real stuffed boar head.
“[They] did a really good job of acting and being expressive as they sang so the audience was engaged,” Fee said.
Ultimately, the Madrigals adapted to the new circumstances and executed a quality production.
“I think [the group is] amazing, I really do,” Gardias said. “They worked so hard and they do such great work that I feel very blessed to be their teacher.”