It’s become a holiday tradition at Cane Bay High for the Cobra Chorale to occupy the commons area, and transform it into Medieval times.
The Cane Bay High Cobra Choirs will present their annual Madrigal Dinners Dec. 14-16 at the school. The Madrigal Dinners are a Renaissance-themed, student-run dinner theater that features the Cane Bay Cobra Chorale.
This is the 10th year the Cobra Choirs has presented the Madrigal Dinners.
The choirs perform under the direction of William J. Bennett, director of choirs.
The skit is intertwined with musical performances by the Cane Bay Cobra Chorale. The students will serve a three-course meal consisting of homemade vegetable soup, chicken quarters baked by M&E Catering, dinner rolls donated by Logan’s Steak House, roasted potatoes, roasted green beans and apple pie à la mode. Wassail, sweet/unsweetened tea, lemonade and water will be available as well.
This year’s show is entitled “Robin Hood & His Merrie Men of the Round Table” and is unique this year in that it is was written by 12th-grader Jesse Stratford. The premise of the skit is Robin Hood and his merry men are caught in the castle stealing from the king. During their escape Robin Hood knocks his head and gets amnesia. Prince John, on the outs with his father, the king, convinces Robin Hood that he really steals from the poor to give to the rich in an effort to retrieve the king’s stolen goods.
Eleventh-graders Christian McClellan and Alex Strunk, who play “the King” and “Prince John” respectively, said the chorus sings Christmas songs throughout the evening. The dinner is always Renaissance-themed but the skit changes each year.
Stratford said he was approached by Bennett with the offer to write the skit earlier this year.
“I had the idea of Robin Hood in mind, and he kind of guided me from there with an idea,” he said.
There are nine singers in the skit; students had to audition for the roles. Stratford said he used his whole summer break to brainstorm the skit and then sit down and write it.
Students said they start learning the music for the Madrigal Dinners after they have finished up their fall concert.
“We call this ‘Madrigal season’,” McClellan said.
Twelfth-grader Makayla Anos, who plays “the Queen”, said her favorite part of Madrigal season is the feeling it gives her.
“I associate Madrigals with Christmas,” she said.
Students said it is also an event that creates a camaraderie among the chorus members.
“It just brings our choir together every year,” eleventh-grader Maria Myers said. Myers plays a jester in the skit.
The Madrigal Dinners also bring back alumni students they previously sang with the students during their times as lowerclassmen.
“We emphasize making the Cane Bay Choirs in general feel like a family and this specific show that we put on is probably the closest we come together in that light, being a family,” McClellan said, adding, “It’s a very connected experience.”
There are approximately 50 students in the Chorale. Eleventh-grader Madeline Kramer, who plays “Robin Hood”, said all the chorus groups have that kind of camaraderie.
“We have multiple choirs, and this is just one of the groups where we can feel at home,” she said.
The students said the event also draws residents beyond their school community.
“There’s people in the community who don’t have a kid related to the choir at all but they e-mail Bennett every year…’When are your Madrigal Dinners happening this year? We’re ready. We want to buy a full table,’” Kramer said.
McClellan said they choirs have gotten support from residents such as the Del Webb community.
“They love anything we put on,” he said.
Bennett said in an e-mail the Cobra Chorale has a great year thus far: the Chorale performed a feature concert for the South Carolina Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association at a Fall Conference earlier this semester. Following that they performed their fall concert and then traveled to Georgia Southern University where they competed against 12 schools from Georgia, taking home the first place mixed ensemble and overall Grand Championship.
The Chorale placed 26 singers into the South Carolina All-State Choirs and had five of its choir members selected for the National Honor Choirs in Kansas City this year.
As of Nov. 30 the Chorale was gearing up for its Fine Arts Holiday Concert on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. in the school’s gym. The event features all aspects of the school’s Fine Arts Department that includes band, dance, drama, strings and visual arts in addition to the choir.
Bennett said the upcoming Madrigal Dinners are attended by nearly 400 guests over the three nights.
“The Madrigal Dinners are a major undertaking for this group,” he wrote, “but this is an event that brings us closer as a choir family and helps catapult us into the spring. We always come out of them a better choir.”
Bennett said the Sunday dinner is an “emotionally charged” evening as it is the seniors’ last Madrigal Dinner – “and there is not a dry eye in the house.”
“The Madrigal Dinners are definitely a highlight on our calendars each year and this group has done a great job preparing for them,” he said.
Advanced tickets for the show are required; the cost per ticket is $30. Dec. 14 and 15 shows start at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16 show starts at 5 p.m. with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. Visit http://www.canebaychoirs.com to purchase tickets.
Cane Bay High is located at 1624 State Road in Summerville.