Our History and Mission
Founded in 2000, Rocky Mountain Revels is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to promoting public education, understanding, and appreciation of traditional music, dance, drama, and ritual through participatory theater and communal celebration.
We have created Revels productions of Medieval, Renaissance, pan-Celtic, Victorian, Scottish, Irish Immigrants, and Colorado Pioneers. Each year, beginning in the late summer, nearly 100 people from all over the greater Boulder and Denver area come together to rehearse and create a production with full historical costumes, live traditional music, and authentic dance and theater.
Revels productions are a unique blend of amateur and professional performers. Guest artists appearing with Rocky Mountain Revels have included North American step dancing champion Alexandra Siega, Native American flutist Leon Littlebird, folk artist David Jones, Boulder Philharmonic concertmaster Gregory Walker, and many others.
There are Revels organizations in ten cities throughout the United States.
A Word about Revels, Our National Organization
In Cambridge Mass in 1971, John Langstaff founded Revels, Inc. to link the music, dances, and seasonal rituals from an older world to a modern world that needs them.
What is Revels? Revels is song. Revels is dance. Revels celebrates the seasons and cycles of human life through the arts, the songs and dances, and the stories from traditional cultures. Audiences recognize the events, desires, and dilemmas from another place and time as their own. In Cambridge, Spring Sing hails the renewal of life and color; SummersDay Revels glories in abundance; RiverSing marks cooler, darker days. In every Revels city, The Christmas Revels welcomes the return of the light.
Revels is community. A Revels production brings a volunteer chorus of children and adults and professional actors, musicians, designers, and directors into community. At each performance, this community invites the audience to join it. The audience always accepts the invitation, to make noises, to sing carols, to join hands with strangers and dance. Audience participation is the hallmark of Revels.
Revels is tradition. At the heart of each Revels production are the dancers, singers, and storytellers who preserve the arts and traditions of their own cultures. And through its respect for tradition, Revels has created its own. What would the holidays be without "The Shortest Day," the "Sussex Mummers Carol," and "Lord of the Dance"?
Revels is education. Revels' commitment to education is the legacy of John Langstaff's rich and varied career as an educator. In Cambridge and some other cities, Revels offers educational programs for children and families, along with recordings, songbooks, lesson plans, how-to manuals, and choral arrangements of the music from its performances.
Revels is growing. The tree of Revels has deep roots, with production companies in ten cities: Cambridge, Massachusetts, New York City; Washington, D.C.; Hanover, New Hampshire; Oakland and Santa Barbara, California; Houston, Texas; Tacoma, Washington; Portland, Oregon, and Boulder, Colorado. And Revels inspires smaller productions across the nation. What has compelled so many to do so much for so long to help this tree grow?
Revels is joy.
Some Previous Rocky Mountain Revels Shows
2018 Christmas Revels: Nordic Lights
Our 2018 show, Nordic Lights, featured haunting melodies from Scandinavian lands and folk tales of trolls, an enchanted fox, and brave children. ‘Tis the Solstice and the Christmas season when the troll Grylla and her Yule lads trick the villagers to steal bad children, and only a brave girl accompanied by a magical fox can save them. Together they rely on courage, community, and music as clear and crisp as new-fallen snow to see them through the night.“Nordic Lights” proudly to welcomed Guest Artist Sandra Wong to the show, playing nyckelharpa and hardanger fiddle. The nyckelharpa is a traditional Swedish instrument while the hardanger fiddle was originally used to play music of Norway. Ms. Wong has toured nationally and internationally and is noted for performing music from many cultures. She has a special love for Scandinavian music from living and studying in Sweden.
This was our third holiday season at the Dairy Arts Center’s Gordon Gamm Theater - a great performance venue in Boulder, Colorado.
2017 Christmas Revels: An Irish Celebration of the Winter Solstice
In 2017 we reprised our popular Irish show aboard the U.S.S. Carpathia with a new set and enthusiastic new cast members.
The Celtic myth of the merrow (half human, half fish) was featured in the tale of Coomara and the Soul Cages as the passengers sought to entertain themselves on a stormy voyage. The passengers and crew pulled out clothing and utensils on hand to create props for an impromptu Mummers' Play to lighten the spirits as they remained at sea over the holiday. Irish dancers Emma Acker and Evan Acker joined August Plummer to amaze our audience with their dancing, both individually and as a perfectly coordinated trio as they cast aside their duties as deck hands to entertain the voyagers.
Professional musicians Jeff Bain, Margot Krimmel, Adam Agee, Jon Sousa, and the Flagstaff Brass Quintet added to the festivities.
In addition to such sing-along favorites as “Whiskey in the Jar” and “Rocky Road to Dublin”, our passengers shared more melancholy songs recalling the home left behind. Their anticipation of a new life in America was underscored by Emma Lazaraus’ poem “The New Colossus” with its famous words“ Give me your tired, your poor” and the inspiring “Hymn for a New Land”, written by George Emlen, music director of the Cambridge Revels welcomed our immigrants.
2016 Christmas Revels: A Scottish Celebration of the Winter Solstice
The 2016 Scottish Revels explored the solstice traditions of 17th century Scotland, highlighting the old traditions of Scots midwinter celebrations including Hogmanay, First Footing, the traditional Mummer's play, and audience sing-alongs of Christmas carols.
This year we also welcomed back our amazing National Irish Step Dance Champion, August Plummer.
2015 Christmas Revels: Colorado Pioneers
"Colorado Pioneers," featured some of the finest soloists on the Front Range. We were pleased to work again with two excellent instrumental ensembles: Flagstaff Brass Quintet, and Jason and Gina Dilg. We had a marvelous choreographer, Eliza Parker, and we welcomed back our remarkable storyteller and cultural expert, Norma Johnson.
We also welcomed back our amazing concert violinist, Gregory Walker. We were thrilled to work again with our Native American Flutists, Leon Littlebird and Calvin Standing Bear.
2014 Christmas Revels: An Irish Celebration of the Winter Solstice
It is a paradox of the human condition that the most trying of circumstances can sometimes produce the most life-affirming and joyful expressions of spiritual strength. Music in particular can be an inlet for inspiration and and outlet for emotion.
Boarding the RMS Carpathia in 1907, a cluster of Irish emigrants gambled everything on making a new life in a new land. Leaving heart-broken relatives whom they will likely never see again and carrying the barest minimum of personal possessions, they approached the new with an excitement and ambition tempered by the loss of their homeland. Sorrow and joy together--the essence of what it was to be an Irish emigrant. We met new companions, shared a story, danced a jig, and sang together in a Christmas Ceili the whole night through; and when the sun rose over the New World, we saw it through the clear eyes of these indefatigable Celtic pioneers.
Special performers were the Celtic Steps School of Irish Dance, and Irish musicians including Jeff Bain, Margot Krimmel, Adam Agee, Jon Sousa, along with the folk band Firing Line and the Flagstaff Brass Quintet.
2013 Christmas Revels: The Ghosts of Bartow-PellThe Christmas story of a magnificent home, a remarkable family legacy, and the mystery that surrounded it…
Hundreds of years ago the intrepid Thomas Pell bartered with the Siwanoy Indians for a beautiful plot of land in New York State, on which he built a large estate, married the lovely Dora Bartow, and started a family. Generations of Bartow-Pells passed through the hallowed halls of that beautiful mansion, raising children and raising the roof with their celebrations of life, love, good fortune, Christmas, and the winter solstice.
Now in the year 1928, the honorable Frederick Bartow of Maryland, final lord and heir to the Bartow-Pell Estate, has returned to the family seat for one last time. With his own family in tow, Frederick Bartow is determined to sell the aging mansion and cumbersome estate, forever scattering the great family legacy to the winds.
Three hundred years of reveling Bartow-Pell spirits will not allow that to happen…
2012 Christmas Revels: An Appalachian Christmas
Our 2012 show indulged in the rich tapestry of Appalachian culture in the mid-1800s and celebrates the traditions of the winter solstice through music, dance, and drama.
With authentic fiddling, clogging, storytelling, and folk songs, along with a fabulous community cast and children's chorus, the show was filled with heart, humor, and an Appalachian soul.
2011 Christmas Revels: Leonardo and the Renaissance
It's a late December afternoon in Florence, circa 1500, and the famous inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci has issued invitations to an evening of festivities. Nobles are arriving from across Italy to see what surprises await.
And what surprises they are! Leonardo has forgotten about the invitations. The haughty staff has neither practice nor interest in showing the proper decorum to their noble guests. And the guests are forced to amuse themselves with plays, dances and songs among the wonders of Leonardo's studio.
2010 Christmas Revels
This was the Tenth anniversary show for Rocky Mountain Revels. In honor of this, we reprised the original, traditional Christmas Revels show as produced by the founding Revels troupe in Cambridge, MA in the 1970s.
2009 Christmas Revels - Celtic Roads
In 2009 Rocky Mountain Revels presented a rich and colorful Celtic journey of music, dance, and drama set in the 18th century that celebrated the rituals of the darkest time of the year and the cherished traditions of Christmas. This original and fully costumed production featured Irish step dancing, fiddle band, brass quintet, and a large cast of adults and children. Sprinkled throughout are Christmas carols, a mummers play, audience sing-alongs, and of course, The Lord of the Dance.
The 2009 Christmas Revels was filled with echoes of the celebration and ritual with which the Celts marked the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. The Celtic Roads script encompassed Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and even Breton traditions.
2008 Christmas Revels - Colorado Pioneers
This original show celebrated the Colorado pioneer, in commemoration of the 150th birthday celebrations of towns along the front range.
In our pioneer story, we followed a traveler who left his eastern roots and headed west to find great adventures in the Rocky Mountains.
Summer 2008 at Chautauqua - In the Good Old Summer Time
Rocky Mountain Revels and the Timberliners Barbershop Chorus took the stage together to celebrate Colorado summertime in the historic Boulder Chautauqua Auditorium. The audience enjoyed and sang along with favorite songs and dances dating from the 1890s when the Chautauqua auditorium was brand new!
2007 Christmas Revels - An Irish Christmas
This show celebrated the splendid traditions and history of faire Ireland, circa 1890. The production took place on the docks of Cobh in County Cork, where tens of thousands of Irshmen, women, and children boarded ships heading to the New World. The hardships of this uncertain journey were softened by the joy of their national songs and dances.
2006 Christmas Revels - A Scottish Festival
Celebrates the breathtaking sounds of 18th century Scotland, which echo from over the hills and through the centuries into our hearts and minds today. Lairds and ladies represented the refined elements of Scotland, while the wild highlanders and the more civilized lowlanders all worked together to make a fascinating mixture of culture and arts.
2005 Christmas Revels - The King and the Fool
This was a midwinter celebration with traditional and ritual dances, carols, processionals, and drama. We find ourselves in the Banqueting Hall of a medieval castle, awaiting the arrival of a great king and his court, and the commencement of the royal midwinter festivities.