Apollo’s Fire’s 2023 Christmas Show, “Wassail! an Irish Appalachian Christmas,” was a reworking of its earlier crossover shows, “Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain” and “Sugarloaf Mountain: an Appalachian Gathering” — attractive programs of folk music wrapped around the narrative of immigrants from the British Isles who brought their tunes with them to the New World. I saw the most recent version in its final performance in Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Sunday, December 17.
The narrative, delivered by Derdriu Ring (also credited with theatrical direction) opens in an Irish village on Christmas Eve of 1849 during the Great Famine, then fast forwards to immigrants’ new homes in Appalachia on Christmas Day of the following year. A Wassailing segment captures the tradition of boozy, door-to-door caroling, followed by Winter by the Hearth, a celebration of coziness in the face of winter, then a segue into a telling of the Christmas story and preparations for the sea journey to America. [Read more…]