Highlights: Christmas Revels Emcee Sweats the Details

  • Master of Ceremonies John Peaveler, of West Fairlee, Vt., leads the ensemble in the final song of the first act while Nacio Levey, left, and Tom Conlogue dance with bells during a dress rehearsal for "The Christmas Revels: A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice" at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover, N.H., on Dec. 10, 2017. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

  • Hannah Jeffrey, of White River Junction, Vt., plays the Tomten, a quirky Swedish elf, during a dress rehearsal for "The Christmas Revels: A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice at Spaulding Auditorium" in Hanover, N.H., on Dec. 10, 2017. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

  • The children’s ensemble takes center stage during a dress rehearsal for "The Christmas Revels: A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice" at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover, N.H., on Dec. 10, 2017. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

  • Cathie Springer, left, and Annamarie Pluhar dance to a traditional Nordic song during a dress rehearsal for "The Christmas Revels: A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice" at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover, N.H., on Dec. 10, 2017. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

  • Master of Ceremonies John Peaveler, of West Fairlee, Vt., center, watches the festivities around him during a dress rehearsal for "The Christmas Revels: A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice" at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover, N.H., on Dec. 10, 2017. (Sarah Priestap photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, December 14, 2017

For recreation, John Peaveler toughs out ultramarathons and triathlons.

For his day job, he oversees animal rescues both locally and globally.

So how hard can it be to emcee the Christmas Revels, which take place this weekend at the Hopkins Center in Hanover?

“It’s the least comfortable thing I’ve ever done on stage,” Peaveler, 35, said between rehearsals last week for his new role as master of ceremonies for Revels. “It’s so new. I’ve done a lot of singing and a tiny bit of dancing but now I have to do that and break the plane with the audience by addressing them directly. The actual interaction is difficult. And my other skills are pretty dissociated from what this requires.

“It’s two very different lives.”

Peaveler might simply be singing with the chorus through this year’s Revels, on the theme of “A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice,” if longtime Revels North master-of-ceremonies Lloyd Gabourel hadn’t retired after last December’s Quebecois-themed extravaganza. After all, Peaveler was juggling his everyday work as animal control officer in West Fairlee with joining animal-rescue experts in responding to emergencies such as the discovery of 84 Great Danes in filthy conditions in eastern New Hampshire this past June, and the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

The demands of preparing to serve as master of ceremonies prompted Peaveler to turn down a trip to Korea, where 170 canines were discovered in a fetid dog-meat farm, and another to Puerto Rico for a mission to spay and neuter dogs and cats and geld horses on the island of Vieques.

“It takes a lot of rehearsal to do this show right,” he said. “It’s hard to fit this in, but I travel a lot and try to be home for the holidays. My daughter, Dalal, is in Revels, and this is really important to her.”

Peaveler is returning the favor that his wife and their elementary-school-age son and daughter granted him by following him to Kuwait, where he oversaw the desert nation’s Society for the Protection of Animals for several years. They had spent summers in West Fairlee, and ultimately decided to relocate to the Upper Valley full time two years ago, when his wife found work at Dartmouth College.

“The kids were definitely the biggest part of it,” Peaveler said. “Kuwait isn’t the easiest place to raise kids.”

Peaveler did find time in Kuwait to do some musical theater, and he found plenty of outlets for his showmanship side once he arrived in the Upper Valley. In addition to singing in Revels last December, he has sung at some open mics in the area, as well as with Thomas Chapin’s Bradford, Vt.-based Thomas & Friends quintet.

“Music is really a break for me from the harder things I do in my life,” Peaveler said. “It’s at once grounding and uplifting.”

Half of the 73 members of the Revels chorus are younger than 18, among them Strafford resident Maeve Miller, who stars as a girl learning about her Scandinavian heritage through songs, dances and tales of her ancestors. While shepherding so many singers, dancers and musicians is “a challenge, at least I’m not in charge of the logistics,” Peaveler said. “There are other people in charge of that. Our artistic director, Nils Fredland, has been teaching me to conduct.

“I’m hoping I’ll have the muscle memory down by Opening Night.”

Revels North stages six performances of “A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice” at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover, between tonight and Sunday night. Tickets were going fast for all shows as of press time on Wednesday, with the most seats available for the finale on Sunday night at 5. For tickets ($8 to $46 on opening night, $11 to $48 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and for more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Revels North also is offering a stage set of snowy mountains from its production to area theater groups and school drama programs, free of charge. Anyone interested in acquiring the set, and who can pick it up at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium on Monday, should email Laura Crafts, Revels North’s manager of volunteers, at craft@revelsnorth.org.

Best Bets

The Hartland Community Chorus and the Hartland Flute Choir provide the live soundtrack for the staging of Grampa Has a Meltdown, a “theatrical vignette” for the holidays by Hartland Community Arts, on Friday night at 7:30 and Sunday afternoon at 2 at Damon Hall. While admission is free, donations of non-perishable food to the Hartland Christmas Project are welcome.

Jazz guitarist Chris von Staats leads his band into The Skinny Pancake in Hanover on Friday night at 8 to play music from Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. No cover charge.

Performers from the recently-completed ArtisTree Music Theatre Festival sing Christmas favorites and holiday hits from Broadway during ArtisTree’s Christmas at the Grange concert on Monday night at 7:30 at the Grange Theatre in South Pomfret. For tickets ($17) and more information, visit artistreevt.org or call 802-457-3500.

The Upper Valley Music Center hosts its annual recital of Handel’s Messiah at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon on Sunday night at 6:30. The fee to perform is $15. To register to sing, and to inquire about available instrumental slots in the orchestra, visit uvmusic.org/events.html or call 603-448-1642. The suggested admission for listeners is $10.

Theater/Performance Art

Northern Stage’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid continues at the Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction through Jan. 7. For tickets ($15 to $69) and more information, visit northernstage.org or call 802-296-7000.

The Parish Players lower the curtain on their revival of Peter Parnell’s Scooter Thomas Makes It to the Top of the World at the Eclipse Grange Theatre on Thetford Hill this weekend, with a performances tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and a Sunday matinee at 3. To reserve tickets ($10 to $15) and learn more, visit parishplayers.org or call 802-785-4344. Proceeds benefit the programs of West Central Behavioral Health.

Enfield’s Shaker Bridge Theatre completes its staging of Mark St. Germain’s romantic comedy Dancing Lessons this weekend, starting with a performance tonight at 7:30. The play follows the unfolding relationship between a Broadway dancer and a young man with Asperger syndrome to whom she’s teaching some steps for an awards dinner. Subsequent performances at Whitney Hall in downtown Enfield are scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 and on Sunday afternoon at 2:30. For tickets ($16 to $35) and more information, visit shakerbridgetheatre.org or call 603-448-3750.


Pianist Deborrah Wyndham performs a free concert of familiar and rare songs of the holiday season at the Quechee Library on Friday afternoon at 5. Wyndham also will play a Quebecois song during the pre-concert tea that starts at 4:30.

Michael Zsoldos directs BarnArts’ seventh annual Winter Carols recital at the First Universalist Church of Barnard on Friday night at 7. While admission is free, donations to BarnArts’ programs are welcome.

The Bradford Teen Association and the town’s Recreation Department host a session of Christmas caroling on Saturday night at 5:30, in the gazebo in Denny Park.

The roots ensemble Still Hill performs the monthly Corinth Coffeehouse on Saturday night at 7 in the Town Hall on Cookeville Road. Admission is by donation to the Chelsea-based SafeArt program for survivors of domestic violence. To learn more, visit Corinth Coffeehouse on Facebook.

The cover band Eaglemania plays tribute to one of the most successful rock groups of the 1970s and 1980s on Saturday night at 8 at the Claremont Opera House. For tickets ($29 to $39) and more information, call 603-542-0064, or visit claremontoperahouse.org or the box office in City Hall.

Bar and Club Circuit

Folk musicians Rowe Williams, Jim Musty and Phyllis Shea perform at Peyton Place in Orford tonight, between 6 and 9. Next Thursday night at the same time, musical chameleon Joseph Stallsmith plays across a wide spectrum of genres.

Folk singer and multi-instrumentalist Harvey Reid appears at the Flying Goose Brewpub and Grille in New London tonight at 8. To reserve seats ($25) to either show, visit flyinggoose.com or call 603-526-6899.

Linda B. and the Barncats set the rhythm for dancing on Friday night at 9 at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

Soulfix performs at Crossroads Bar and Grill in South Royalton on Friday night at 9. Soulfix leader and saxophonist Mike Parker and band vocalist Alison “AliT” Turner appear at the Stony Brook Tavern in Stockbridge on Saturday night at 6, and then return to Crossroads for a show on Tuesday night at 6.

GrooveSum kicks off the weekend of music at Salt hill Pub in Hanover with a set of 1970s-flavored rock on Friday night at 9. Arthur James sings and plays the blues at the venue on Saturday night at 9.

Tirade frontman Toby Moore rocks Salt hill Pub in Lebanon on Friday night at 9. Turner Round plays classic and modern rock covers Saturday night at 9.

Singer-songwriter Jim Hollis appears at Salt hill Pub in West Lebanon on Friday night at 9, and Mo’Combo frontman Will Michaels performs his mix of rock, blues and ragtime at the venue on Saturday night at 9.

The one-man rock band Shrimp Tunes plays the Salt hill Pub in Newport on Friday night at 9. Night Cap fills the venue with covers of classic rock on Saturday night at 9.

Justin Panigutti pulls into Windsor Station with his blues band on Friday night at 9:30. On Saturday night starting at 9:30, The Sidemen play rock, funk and reggae while the Sturdy Lad ensemble plays Americana.

Saxophonist Mike Parker and guitarist Norm Wolfe play jazz at the Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm on Wednesday night at 6.

Open Mics

The ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret hosts its weekly hour of “A Little Lunch Music” this afternoon at 1. The informal gathering, with sheet music and a piano available for duets and small ensembles, is open to instrumentalists in all fields.

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 on Thursday nights. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

Joe Stallsmith leads a weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass at Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Monday nights at 6.

Jim Yeager hosts the following open mics over the coming week: on Monday night at 8 at Bentley’s in Woodstock; at the Public House in Quechee on Tuesday night at 6; on Wednesday night at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners; and next Thursday night at 7 at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret.

Fiddler Jakob Breitbach leads a weekly acoustic jam session of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music on Tuesday nights at 7 at The Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

Tom Masterson hosts the weekly open mic at Bradford’s Colatina Exit on Tuesday nights at 8.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Entertainment news and announcements also can be sent to highlights@vnews.com.


Classicopia has canceled the three chamber-music concerts that Hanover-native violinist Roseminna Watson was scheduled to play in the Upper Valley this weekend with Classicopia pianist Daniel Weiser. No makeup dates have been announced. To learn more about tickets already purchased and about rescheduling, email marcia@classicopia.org or call 603-643-3337.