OAKLAND -- Don't let the title of this holiday pageant fool you. "The Christmas Revels" is a celebration of many different traditions.
Now in its 27th year, the production includes 80 singers and dancers who come take the stage as pilgrims from all over Europe. The pilgrims come together in Prosecco, a 16th century village on the Adriatic Sea, where they celebrate the return of light after winter's darkness.
As the villagers prepare for a great feast and holiday pageant, they encounter visitors from the East, as the sun, moon and stars move into a delicate balance. Three "fools" are in charge of marking the village's transition to the New Year. Of course, plenty goes wrong before the fools make things right.
"That is what fools do best," said Jeff Raz, of Alameda, who plays the head of the local Guild of Fools.
Raz has performed for 35 years around the world, including 500 shows with Cirque du Soleil, and is known for his circus work, clowning and comic acting. The show's other two fools are played by Tristan Cunningham of Emeryville and Mahsa Matin of San Francisco.
In addition to plenty of jokes, "The Christmas Revels" is filled with music from England, the Holy Roman Empire and the Middle East, comic winter rituals and sing-along carols. Notable tunes include "The Shortest Day," "The Sussex Mummers Carol," "Dona Nobis Pacem" and Lord of the Dance."
"This year's production will be a truly celestial celebration,"
The pageant is directed by David Parr. Fred Goff is the show's music director, and Dirk Burns is its producer. The Brass West Quintet, True Life Trio and percussionist Dan Auvil provide the music.
The cast also features Revels favorites James Galileo, musician and arranger Shira Kammen and music director Fred Goff. A chorus of 65 adults, teens and children -- along with the Deer Creek Morris Men -- also take the stage.
Performers come from across the Bay Area. Teen Sofia Gotch of Piedmont, for instance, has been in the pageant for the past seven years, while teenager Camila Chavez of Alameda is participating for the first time.
Montclair-area residents and Thornhill Elementary School students Lucas and Vera Roque share their talents in the production, along with child performer Elia Demers, an Oakland hills resident. Other hills participants include Grant, 11, Hannah, 14, and Oliver Konkel, 17, and their father Fred Konkel.
What: "The Christmas Revels"
When: 1, 5 or 8 p.m. Dec. 7-9 and Dec. 14-16
Where: Scottish Rite Theater, 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland
Cost: $12 to $55
information: www.californiarevels.org or call 510-452-8800.