“All is Calm” by Theater Latte Da at the Pantages Theatre

December 20, 2010.By Jill Schafer, Cherry and Spoon.

All is Calm is the annual Christmas show by Theater Latte Da, my favorite local theater, and, inexplicably, this is the first time I've seen it.  In it's third year, the show was written by Latte Da Artistic Director Peter Rothstein (with musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach) about the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914.  Soldiers on both sides (German and Allied troops) spontaneously decided to stop shooting at each other for one day, and walked out into "no man's land" to sing songs, play games, and share photos of loved ones.  All is Calm tells the story of these men through music and their own words.

I'm not sure whether to call this show a concert, a play, or a musical.  It's really a lovely combination of all three.  In a message from Peter Rothstein in the playbill, he says, "I'm interested in creating performance where the content dictates the form" (something I believe I've also heard Stephen Sondheim say).  The show is constructed from quotes from soldiers' letters and journals, as well as articles written about the truce.  Three actors recite these quotes in a colorful variety of British accents.  Interspersed among the quotes are songs by the male vocal ensemble Cantus, who sing traditional Christmas carols and army songs.  Peter was inspired to collaborate with Cantus when he saw one of their concerts and realized that "their work was pushing the boundaries of chamber music in the ways Theater Latte Da was pushing the boundaries of musical theater."  It's a beautiful collaboration; at times it's hard to distinguish the actors from the musicians.  They're all dressed alike in black coats and sweaters.  As the story moves into winter of 1914, they all gather their scarves a little tighter, pull hats and gloves out of their pockets, and button their coats.  The singers act the part of the soldiers leaving their homes and families with excitement, expecting to return soon, only to be caught in a brutal, cold, long war.  The truce is a short break in their weariness, and gives them hope, at least for a moment.

I think this show is less about Christmas or any specific holiday, than it is about the realization that we're more alike than we are different.  The people we are fighting against in any war are really not that different from ourselves.  They want to be home with their families and live a peaceful, happy life, just like we do.  It really is a lovely thought - what if the armies of both sides went on strike, would we find another way to settle our differences?  Idealistic maybe, but something to think about.

KARE about the Arts: All Is Calm

December 17, 2010.By KARE11.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn -- The simple joys of Christmas have been captured in a variety of ways over the years, but recently, none has stood out more memorably in the Twin Cities than, All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914.

Created and directed by Peter Rothstein, All Is Calm, is the story of Allied and German soldiers who audaciously declare peace at Christmas time in 1914.

Presented as a musical, the production is filled with touching and memorable quotes and writings from the soldiers. All of this comes to life with the help of the talented all male chorus, Cantus.

The production is a collaboration between Cantus, Theater Latte Da and Hennepin Theatre Trust. Now in it's third year, the musical is being performed at Minneapolis historic Pantages Theatre.

All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 is being performed at the Pantages through Sunday, December 19, 2010. For tickets and additional information  www.ticketmaster.com or State Theatre box office.

‘All Is Calm’ peers into soldiers’ hearts amid horror of war

December 17, 2010.By Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press.

Musical theater is an art form that customarily asks you to suspend your disbelief. After all, real life rarely involves people bursting into song to express their feelings or tell a story.

But "All Is Calm" is something else. It has the kind of slice-of-reality feel that you might expect from a documentary film. Yet celluloid can't capture the emotional power delivered by the production currently being presented at Minneapolis' Pantages Theatre. A collaboration of Theatre Latte Da and the male vocal group Cantus, it's a production that can transport audiences to parts of the heart rarely explored by taking them to a place few would want to be: the trenches of Europe during World War I.

"All Is Calm" tells the story of Christmas 1914, when enemy soldiers laid down their arms, stepped over the coils of barbed wire and got to know one another by exchanging songs, stories, gifts and grief as they helped bury one another's dead. Its text is taken from letters of soldiers who were there, delivered with acute attention to accents and character development by actors John Catron, David Roberts and Alan Sorenson.

But what makes the production so powerful are the voices of the men of Cantus, their harmonies laden with layers of complex and conflicted tones, expressing combinations of fear and joy, relief and sadness. While the letters home express some admirably candid observations, it's the songs that flesh out the feelings behind them.

Over the course of a little more than an hour, "All Is Calm" takes audiences around many a hairpin emotional curve. Warm carols give way to a sad song of death, the chorus engulfed in a fog reminiscent of the poison gas used on battlefields of the day. The bawdy drinking songs of the English are interrupted by the Germans' soft and lovely "O Tannenbaum," and, in the drama's turning point, the solo rendition of "Stille Nacht" that proves an act of radical compassion.

The soldiers of "All Is Calm" boldly step over the proscribed boundaries of their conflict. With this work, Rothstein and Cantus have created something that takes the holiday musical to far more powerful places than one might expect possible.

What: Cantus, Theatre Latte Da and Hennepin Theatre Trust's production of "All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914" by Peter Rothstein

When: 7:30 p.m. today, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis

Tickets: $35-$27.50, available at 800-982-2787 or hennepintheatretrust.org

Capsule: A deeply involving piece that deserves to become a local Christmas tradition.

‘All is Calm’ recreates real Christmas miracle

December 17, 2010.By Ed Huyck, City Pages.

After a miserable week and discovering that I had a flat tire as I parked my car, it's safe to say I wasn't in the best of moods walking into the Pantages Theatre last night for All is Calm. And while this is a cliché, it was certainly true for me Thursday evening: I forgot all of that during the hour that the concert/theatrical production from the fine performers at Cantus and Theater Latte Da was on the stage.

Subtitled "The Christmas Truce of 1914," the piece explores a spontaneous, temporary halt to the fighting during the first Christmas of World War I, when the regular troops on both sides of No Man's Land put down their weapons before being ordered to resume the war's meat grinder.

During the truce, the soldiers mingled, exchanged gifts, and sang--which is where Cantus comes in. The nine-member ensemble makes absolutely gorgeous music together, be it for the early pieces about getting ready for war, the resulting reality of the trenches, or through a series of traditional carols and Christmas songs during the truce itself. Their arrangements draw fresh emotion out of the most familiar pieces, such as on "Silent Night," where they repeat and alter the tone of the "All is Calm" line until it becomes something mysterious and magical--just like the truce itself.

Aiding the story are a trio of actors who bring the tale to life via the recollections of the soldiers from both sides who fought during that first year and who found themselves participating in a rare bit of humanity amid all of the carnage. Mixed this with the music and the simple, but effective staging from director Peter Rothstein, and you have an absolutely beautiful night of theater.

Often times, holiday shows are either too schmaltzy or cynical. All is Calm strips any of that away. There was no order from on high for the truce to happen, no photo ops, no political gain. These everyday foot soldiers did, as one of them recollects, what even the Pope couldn't do: Stop the fighting for Christmas. That's a miracle I think any of us would take.

All is Calm runs through Sunday.


December 12, 2010.By Graydon Royce, Star Tribune.

Opening: The essence of Christmas is distilled in this beautiful collaboration between Theater Latté Da and Cantus. In 1914, Allied and German troops crawled out of their trenches and celebrated Christmas together. Latté Da’s Peter Rothstein built a script from letters and diaries of the soldiers on both sides, and Cantus provides nine voices singing carols and folk songs from the era. The combination is a moving drama that causes us to wonder about the forces that move human hearts. (7:30 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. next Sun. $15-$35. Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. 1-800-982-2787 or www.hennepintheatretrust.org.)

Weekly performance art openings (12/12/10 – 12/18/10)

December 8, 2010.By Brad Richason, Examiner.

Hennepin Theatre Trust / Theater Latté Da / Cantus: All Is Calm – The Christmas Truce of 1914

The Western Front, Christmas, 1914. Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. A German soldier steps into No Man’s Land singing Stille Nacht. Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music, peace. Re-live this remarkable true story from WWI through the words and songs of the men who lived it. Runs at Hennepin Theatre Trust’s Pantages Theatre through 12/19.

Truce Story

December 2010.By Minnesota Monthly.

It’s not a sexy story. No one gets the girl or even a Red Ryder BB gun. And, for the most part, no one dies–which is very much the point of Theater Latté Da’s unlikely holiday hit All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, staged from December 16 to 19 at the Pantages Theatre. Sung and spoken by the Cantus chorus, it’s the remarkable true story of one winter night on the Western Front of World War I, when a German soldier stride into No Man’s Land singing Stille Nacht, spurring an impromptu Christmas celebration between enemies. It didn’t end the war, but the demonstration of commonalities trumping differences remains as powerful now as then. latteda.org


November 28, 2010.By Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press.

I’d take my 11-year-old son to “All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914,” because I think our species needs to rethink war, and his generation might be the one that starts to alter the cycle.

All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

Dec. 16-19: This moving collaboration between Theatre Latte Da and the male vocal group Cantus could become an enduring local tradition akin to the Guthrie’s “Christmas Carol.” The true story of enemy soldiers setting down their guns and singing carols together also has inspired a new opera the Minnesota Opera will present next year. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16-17, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 19; Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.; $35-$27.50; 800-982-2787 or hennepintheatretrust.org.

Hennepin Theatre Trust Announces 2010 Holiday Lineup

November 26, 2010.By Broadway World News Desk.

Hennepin Theatre Trust today announced a glittering 2010 holiday lineup of shows running at the State, Orpheum, Pantages and Hennepin Stages Theatres in November and December. From special concerts featuring Tony Sandler, Mannheim Steamroller and Linda Eder to local favorites Lorie Line, The Blenders and All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 with Theater Latté Da and Cantus and a new production of David Sedaris' The Santaland Diaries, there's something for everyone this season. Please see the attached press release for specific show information.

November 26-December 31 Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8:30 p.m., Saturday at 7 and 9:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. There are no shows Thursday, Dec. 23 through Saturday, Dec. 25 and show times on Friday, Dec. 31 are 7 and 9 p.m. The Santaland Diaries

Sunday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. Tony Sandler - Suddenly It's Christmas

Friday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller by Chip Davis

December 3-5 Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. The Blenders: In Concert 20th Anniversary Tour

Saturday, Dec. 11 at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. Lorie Line: Making Spirits Bright

December 16-19 Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m. All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914

Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Linda Eder: Home for the Holidays

The Festive Season Is Here

November 2010.By Hennepin Theatre Trust.

In November and December, Hennepin Theatre Trust delivers holiday shows for every taste

Don’t wait until the last minute! As the weather turns cool and the days grow shorter, it’s time to get that special holiday celebration for friends and family on the books. From outstanding concerts featuring international stars Tony Sandler, Mannheim Steamroller and Linda Eder to local favorites Lorie Line, The Blenders and All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 with Theater Latté Da and Cantus and a new production of David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries, there’s something for everyone in downtown Minneapolis.

The Santaland Diaries, the stage adaptation of David Sedaris’ acerbic and hilarious account of his stint working as a Christmas elf in Macy’s Santaland, plays Hennepin Stages November 26 to December 31. Tony Sandler, the platinum-selling vocalist best known as the dynamic half of the sensational Las Vegas duo Sandler and Young, brings 50 years of rich experience as an entertainer to the Pantages Theatre on Sunday, Nov. 28. (On Saturday, Feb. 12, Sandler will also perform a Valentine’s Day show full of romantic classics at the State Theatre.)

The first week of December at the Pantages welcomes The Blenders, the Emmy Award-winning vocal quartet now celebrating their 20th anniversary and Mannheim Steamroller at the Orpheum, the pioneer of neo-classical electronic music. Also, don’t miss in December, the unforgettably moving World War I drama All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 and concerts by two Minnesotans, pianist Lorie Line and vocalist Linda Eder. Eder was recently named as spokesperson for Hennepin Theatre Trust's SpotLight Musical Theatre Program, which celebrates students who excel in their high school musical and provides educational support to the schools who participate.

For tickets or more information to any of these shows please visit the individual show pages on our website:

The Santaland Diaries, November 26-December 31 at Hennepin Stages Theatre

Tony Sandler- Suddenly, It's Christmas, Sunday, Nov. 28 at the Pantages Theatre

Mannheim Steamroller, Dec. 3-4 at the Orpheum Theatre

The Blenders, Dec. 3-5 at the Pantages Theatre

Lorie Line, Dec. 11-12 at the State Theatre

All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, Dec. 16-19 at the Pantages Theatre

Linda Eder, Tuesday, Dec. 21 at the Pantages Theatre