A Queen Size Celebration
The Christmas season arrives each year with a certain excitement and magic, but in the Brazosport area that magic has the power to transport guests at the Elizabethan Madrigal Feast back to a time of unmatched finery and majesty. Over the past two decades, in the small coastal town of Clute, Texas, a special guest arrives with all the pageantry expected of a royal: England’s Queen Elizabeth. The Queen will mark her 15th biennial visit in 2016 as part of an elaborate and courtly dinner at The Center for the Arts and Sciences.
Certainly it would be a social coup to claim that the current reigning crowned head of the English Empire would be the guest of honor at this dinner. However, the sovereign in question is actually the original Queen Elizabeth, the first, convincingly portrayed by a Brazosport area actress as part of the Elizabethan Madrigal Feast scheduled for November 25 through December 10, 2016.
Originally proposed as a cultural development event in 1988 by event Chairman and designer Cheryl Fowler, the Feast has evolved as a major Fundraiser for the Brazosport Center for the Arts and Sciences.
The production, which is held every other year, is the intricate and exquisite creation of educator, astronomer and theater director Judi James. Along with an extended committee, James creates a Yuletide evening plucked straight from the late 1500’s, accurate to the period in every way agreeable.
The evening features an elegant dinner with a European flair befitting the Christmas season with a modernized and easy to follow Shakespeare comedy. Costumed actors serve the three-course meal, interacting with guests to draw them into the evening’s entertainment.
Along with the 168 ticket-holders attending each night of the three-weekend event, historical characters populate the guest list. Actors bring to life the royal court, nobility, explorers, scientists, and adventurers from exotic lands. Waits, who were the paid singers of the time period, musicians, dancers and theatrical players decorate the space that is modeled after the main hall of Warwick Castle, the home of Sir Ambrose Dudley.
The costumes add a palatable sense of pageantry. Cheryl Fowler, an award-winning designer with a degree in clothing construction, oversees the army of volunteers that spend many hours building the elaborately detailed costumes by historical design. Women’s hips and rear ends are padded. Men show off their legs while the women do not. Fashionable men who lack their own beer belly are padded just as they were in Elizabethan times to give the impression of wealth.
Queen Elizabeth loved every kind of music: formal court music, Church music, country song and dance tunes. She had her own orchestra. The Arts flourished through her support. This year’s production will have a lot of beautiful music selected by Angleton High School Choir Director, Tony Stewart, along with Mary Kay Bueller, who are also the music directors for our production.
The story for the evening centers on William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Nights Dream” “This is ‘Shakespeare Lite’,” James said. “If you’re coming to see the rich, beautiful poetry of The Bard, this isn’t it. This is the bawdier, physical part of Shakespeare’s stories.
Come to this elegant, riotous, time travel experience with dinner. It is a night fit for a queen, it is an experience not to be missed.