"All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914" by Peter Rothstein - Greater Boston Stage Company (Stoneham, MA.) - REVIEW

(Cover Photo: The CAST of Peter Rothstein's "ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914" presented by Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, MA. now playing through December 23, 2023. Photo Credit Nile Scott Studios)


By Kevin T. Baldwin

METRMAG Reviewer

# 774-242-6724


“Will ye see the bullets fly - And the sodgers, how they die - And the ladies how they cry, my Mally O?" 

                 - ("Will Ye Go to Flanders") / Dolores Keane and John Faulkner

Greater Boston Stage Company  

Presents Trevor Schmidt's

"ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914"

The 2022 Elliot Norton Award Winning Musical Returns!

Written by Peter Rothstein 

Vocal Arrangements by Erick Lichte & Timothy C. Takach

Remounted by Arthur Gomez

Original Direction and Choreography by Ilyse Robbins

Music Direction by Lea Peterson 

Cast Includes: Christopher Chew*, Caleb Chew, Alexander Holden*, Gary Ng*, Bryan Miner*, Michael Jennings Mahoney*, Stephen Markarian*, Zachary McConnell*, David Jiles Jr.* and Phil Tayler. Understudies: Jacob Less and Darren Paul. 

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States

Performances:

December 8, 2023 through December 23, 2023

(Contact Box Office for Exact Times) 

GREATER BOSTON STAGE COMPANY, 395 Main Street Stoneham, MA 02180 

Tickets:

Reserve your tickets today!

Box Office Hours: Mondays – Fridays, noon to 6pm 

Box Office # 781-279-2200 

boxoffice@greaterbostonstage.org

COVID 19 PROTOCOLS

Contact Venue for Most Updated COVID-19 Safety Protocols and Information.

Hallelujah!! "ALL IS CALM"  is back on stage and thank goodness for that. 

This is the holiday message we absolutely need right now and GREATER BOSTON STAGE COMPANY in Stoneham delivers that message brilliantly.

Written by Peter Rothstein, "ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914" won the prestigious Elliot Norton Award in 2022 and is just as magnificent now as it was then.

"ALL IS CALM" is not a musical. With vocal arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach, it is a play with music.

The show is brings to life the words and spirit of men, civilians turned soldiers, who served and gave all during World War I and, briefly, very briefly, enjoyed peace with those they were fighting. 

There is no orchestra, only 10 men who gather onto a bare stage under isolated lighting and let the story unfold. 10 men who sing together in gorgeous cappella. 

Those men are: Christopher Chew, Caleb Chew, Alexander Holden, Gary Ng, Bryan Miner, Michael Jennings Mahoney, Stephen Markarian, Zachary McConnell, David Jiles Jr. and Phil Tayler.  

"ALL IS CALM" is a true recounting based on letters and statements of those who experienced a brief truce in the trenches between U.K. and German soldiers. 

These people took a beat in the action and, momentarily, exchanged military camaraderie for camaraderie of a different kind. 

Human kind.

The overall plot is pushed along by traditional holiday carols, war time "rally cry" songs and other notable tunes.

Thanks to Rothstein's well constructed script, and under the astute remounting by Arthur Gomez and original direction and choreography by Ilyse Robbins, every single letter moves us. It feels less like a history lesson and more like we are there in the trenches with them.

(Photo: The CAST of Peter Rothstein's "ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914" presented by Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, MA. now playing through December 23, 2023. Photo Credit Nile Scott Studios)

As the excerpts from actual letters of soldiers convey, we witness the Allied soldiers sign up and proceed to the fight. 

During this part of the show, we hear many of the "rallying songs" specific to this war's effort by the Allies such as "Will Ye Go to Flanders" and "It's a Long Way to Tipperary."

Costumes are perfectly period specific and isolated lighting is precisely executed with special effects (such as snow falling) never overused or distracting.

As the initial high spiritedness experienced by the soldiers wears off, they find themselves engaged in constant violent engagements.

Then, soldiers enduring relentless fighting at the line on Christmas, 1914, suddenly broke ranks with upper echelon of command and momentarily called a truce with their enemy, German soldiers. 

(Photo: The CAST of Peter Rothstein's "ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914" presented by Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, MA. now playing through December 23, 2023. Photo Credit Nile Scott Studios)

During the truce, soldiers learn more about the other soldiers they have been charged with killing in battle and, momentarily, former civilians become civil again under completely uncivilized circumstances. 

Yes, among their shared casualties in the freezing cold of winter, just for this brief instance, "ALL IS CALM" and the feeling is bright. 

Yes - Germans and Allies, some of whom shared a language barrier, put down weapons and begin talking together, singing together, laughing together, playing "football" (okay, soccer) together and more.

They also begin to sing together. Maybe not in a common language, but at least with a common meaning.

Songs include variations on "O Holy Night," "Auld Lang Syne" and "Silent Night," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "Angels We Have Heard on High," "Good King Wenceslas" and more.

As civilians they laugh. 

As civilians they worship together. 

As soldiers, they bury their dead together and then return to their respective trenches as the cease fire concludes.

(Photo: The CAST of Peter Rothstein's "ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914" presented by Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, MA. now playing through December 23, 2023. Photo Credit Nile Scott Studios)

Under the music direction of Lea Peterson, the multiple harmonies shared by these 10 men at times is breathtakingly beautiful.

The memories we hear from actual soldier accounting of events as re-called by the actors prove inciteful, amusing, joyful, ominous, sorrowful and haunting and the overall staging is nothing short of mesmerizing.

There are moments you will want to sing along...but will not.

There are moments you will want to applaud...but will not.

As the action and pacing is so fluid, one moment continues into the next without interruption. 

There are extended moments of quiet which seem to be used to perfectly illustrate the few respites of tranquility these two groups of human beings enjoyed for such a short time. 

If there was one event could best demonstrate how a cease fire should work, should one be required in the midst of the overall stupidity that is war, then "ALL IS CALM" is that one event. 

As one song (not featured in the production), "Let There Be Peace on Earth," conveys:

"With God as our Father, Brothers all are we,

Let me walk with my brother, In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now."*

"ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914" continues at Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham, MA. through December 23, 2023.

Coming up in 2024 at Greater Boston Stage Company will be "TITANISH" by Jeff Schell, Ryan Dobosh and Mark Siano which begins March 1st, 2024

For more information or tickets, contact the Box Office at # 781-279-2200 or via email at boxoffice@greaterbostonstage.org

Approximately one hour, 10 minutes with no intermission 

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) 

@MetrmagReviews

@Theatre_Critics 

*Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller


ABOUT THE SHOW

Our 2022 Elliot Norton Award Winning Musical Returns!

The Western Front, Christmas, 1914. 

A German soldier steps into No Man’s Land singing “Stille Nacht.” 

Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music, peace. 

"ALL IS CALM: THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE OF 1914"

A remarkable true story, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it.  

ABOUT GREATER BOSTON STAGE COMPANY 

We bring vibrant professional theatre and dramatic education beyond the boundaries of Boston, featuring world and regional premieres alongside fresh interpretations of familiar work. Within this setting, we uniquely foster the artists of tomorrow by providing ongoing performance and employment opportunities to our company of current and former students. Located in Stoneham, MA. GREATER BOSTON STAGE COMPANY produces five Mainstage shows, presents a series of Special Events, and runs year-round classes, lessons, and fully staged productions through The Young Company for students in grades 1–12.

GREATER BOSTON STAGE COMPANY  

395 Main Street 

Stoneham, MA 02180 

Box Office # 781-279-2200 

boxoffice@greaterbostonstage.org

greaterbostonstage.org