The History of Revels
Concert baritone, recording artist and music educator John Langstaff staged his first Christmas Revels in New York City at Town Hall in 1957. The critically acclaimed production with its traditional songs, dances, mime and a mummers’ play introduced a wholly new way of celebrating the winter solstice. Ten years later NBC Television engaged him to create a nationally televised “Hallmark Hall of Fame” Christmas special (called A Christmas Masque but using the same framework as today’s Christmas Revels) which ran for two consecutive years. In the meantime, Jack continued his active teaching and singing career, instilling the love of traditional and classical music in thousands of young children through televised BBC programs in England where he also made a number of children’s recordings with his friend and producer, George Martin. Returning to the States, for many years he was an influential and much-loved Head of Music at the Potomac School in Maryland.
In 1971, Jack’s daughter Carol persuaded him to revive The Christmas Revels. As a team they pulled together a large group of performers and staged three performances in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. By 1974, an energetic community of “Revelers” was actively involved, a board of directors was formed, and Revels, Inc. was established as a non-profit 501( c )3 organization. Starting as a producer in 1977, Gayle Rich led the growth of the company as Executive Director from 1984-2011.
Today, Revels companies across the country create opportunities for communal celebration and participatory theater.
To learn more about the Revels family, visit Revels, Inc.
Revels Companies include:
Revels, Inc. in Cambridge
“The great success of the Revels is that while it refers to ancient traditions, the program itself has become a living tradition.”— The New York Times