The Christmas Revels

“Celestial Fools”

The Christmas Revels

The Christmas Revels is “a stellar, hit holiday show and “an unmissable treat for the whole family.”
DC Metro Theater Arts

Holiday magic is just around the corner in a rustic village in Europe! As the Winter days grow short, three wandering performers from far-off lands weave music, dance and stories from their cultures into an enchanting and dramatic tale of the Winter Solstice. But when the sun finally sets on the longest night — and darkness seems to stretch on without end — these “Celestial Fools” lead us on a journey into the heavens to reclaim the light and restore its warmth to the world.

Join Washington Revels to celebrate the season with rousing carol sing-alongs, a mad-cap Twelve Days of Christmas, and dancing in the aisles with a cast of over 100, ages 9-90. Enjoy an exuberant blend of music from around the globe by renowned Klezmer and world-music instrumentalists Seth Kibel (clarinet & flute), Vladimir Fridman (guitar), and Bob Abbott (string bass), with the glorious tones of the Washington Revels Brass. Finally, embark on a Winter journey led by tradition bearers Karim Nagi (Arabic drumming & dance), Shizumi Shigeto Manale (Japanese dance & theater), and Mark Novak (Jewish song), as they share wit, wisdom, and even some Winter Solstice magic to help call back the light. Welcome Yule!

Read the 2019 Christmas Revels program

Thanks to Our 2019 Media Sponsors:


Washington Revels thanks WERA 96.7 Radio Arlington and Takoma Radio / WOWD 94.3 FM for their in-kind sponsorship of the 2019 Christmas Revels. Click their logos to learn more about each of these community radio stations in Arlington, VA and Takoma Park, MD, and to listen live online from anywhere.

Photo of The Celestial Fools by Alain L. Gutiérrez Almeida

2019 Guest Artists

Karim Nagi

Karim Nagi is a native Egyptian immigrant to the USA and a true crossover artist uniting the Arab tradition with the global contemporary world. He has released 14 CDs, ranging from traditional Arab music to fusion and electronica. He has authored instructional DVDs for the Tabla/Doumbek, Riqq tambourine, Maqam and Taqsim, Finger Cymbals, Drum Solo for Dance, and Arab Folk Dance. As a dance and drum teacher, Nagi has taught at dozens of festivals in the US, Asia, Europe and Cairo, as well as most major Arab Culture festivals in the US.

He taught at the New England Conservatory of Music for 5 years, and has lectured and presented at numerous US colleges and universities. He has also lectured internationally on arts and diversity at universities in Taiwan, China, and Ecuador. Nagi’s Arabiqa program has conducted over 400 school assemblies across America, exposing young audiences to Arab traditional arts.

His most recent project, “Detour Guide,” incorporates English language storytelling with Arab music and rhythm, along with graphic and video art, to describe the experience of Arabs’ life and culture. Recently Nagi received a Doris Duke Grant for the Islamic Arts through the Virginia Tech “Salaam” project. He has also just been elected to the board of directors for Chamber Music America. www.karimnagi.com


Shizumi Shigeto Manale

Born in Hiroshima and raised in Osaka Japan, Shizumi Shigeto Manale’s numerous artistic endeavors are dedicated to promoting multicultural understanding and acceptance.

A world-renowned and highly awarded dancer, choreographer, author, director, and film producer, Manale founded Shizumi Dance Theatre in 1985 and, from 2000-2015, directed the children’s dance company Shizumi Kodomo Dance Troupe, which performed for President Clinton at the White House’s Millennium Celebrations. She also wrote and choreographed a joint United States-Japan musical theater production for deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Gallaudet University. Manale served as the artistic director of the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s opening ceremonies for seven years.

Other notable projects include the documentary films Geisha: An Artist’s Journey, broadcast by PBS, and Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard, about the friendship between Hiroshima children and American civilians in the aftermath of the atom bomb.  The film was shown President Obama’s 2015 visit to Japan and it was recently screened at a UN Peace Conference this past October. In 2014 she authored the related English-language book Running with Cosmos Flowers, published by Pelican Publishing Co.

Classically trained in Noh and Kyogen theater and Jiuta-mai dance, Manale also studied modern dance at the University of California-Berkeley, creative performing arts at San Francisco State University, and classical ballet at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance.

Photo of Shizumi in the 2019 Christmas Revels by Alain L. Gutiérrez Almeida


Mark Novak

Mark Novak is a rabbi, storyteller, musician, writer, composer, father, and avid Washington Nationals fanatic. He is founder and spiritual guide of Minyan Oneg Shabbat, Washington DC’s Jewish Renewal gathering, and co-founder of The MultiFaith Storytelling Institute, whose mission is to change the world one story at a time.

Mark thanks Washington Revels Artistic Director, Roberta Gasbarre, for nudging him until he said “Yes” to joining the 2019 Christmas Revels production!

Visit Mark online at one or more of his many websites: RebMarko.com; MultifaithStorytelling.org; JewishStorytelling.com; MarkNovakBand.com; and MinyanOnegShabbat.org.

Photo of Mark in the 2019 Christmas Revels by Alain L. Gutiérrez Almeida


Seth Kibel

Seth Kibel is one of the Mid-Atlantic’s premier woodwind specialists, working with some of the best bands in klezmer, jazz, swing, and more. Wowing audiences on clarinet, saxophone, and flute, Seth has made a name for himself in the Washington/Baltimore region and beyond. He has been the featured performer with The Kleztet, Bay Jazz Project, Music Pilgrim Trio, The Natty Beaux, and more. Seth is the winner of 28 Washington Area Music Awards (Wammies), including “Best World Music Instrumentalist” (2003-11) and “Best Jazz Instrumentalist” (2005, 2007-8, 2011-14). His most recent recording, No Words — Instrumental Jazz & Klezmer by Seth Kibel, was released in 2015 on the Azalea City Recordings label. One song from that album, “New Waltz,” was the Grand Prize winner of the 2016 Mid-Atlantic Song Contest (MASC), sponsored by the Songwriters’ Association of Washington (SAW). www.sethkibel.com


Vladimir Fridman

Vladimir Fridman was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. Trained in both music and civil engineering, he decided to pursue his real passion — guitar. Soon he was well known in Moscow’s musical community and performed in theaters, with orchestras, and on Russian TV. As an active member of the eccentric show group Jazz Balalaika, Vladimir toured Europe, the Middle East, and Japan and released 4 albums. Audiences in many countries have enjoyed his scintillating concert performances.

Since his arrival in the United States in 1998, Vladimir has become widely known in music circles within the greater Washington area. He frequently appears as a soloist, as well as with leading musicians. He is a member of two bands: Music Pilgrim Trio and TransAtlantic Duo. He can be heard on the WAMMIE Award-winning Gypsy Strings album, Ole Guapa.

In addition to guitar performance, Vladimir is a gifted composer — you can hear many of his compositions on his website. He also runs a successful guitar studio, and many of his students have received awards at the Maryland State Guitar Competition. www.vfridman.com


Bob Abbott

Bob Abbott is a freelance bass player and arranger in the Mid-Atlantic region. His performance experiences range from local community festivals to performances at national political and social events and international festivals. In 2011 he had the honor of traveling and performing in Croatia and was a guest musician and judge at the Zagreb Guitar Show; in 2014 he returned to Croatia as a clinician and featured performer at the 2nd Annual River Jazz Festival. Bob is an endorsed artist for JanAid Basses, GuitarStrap.It, Acme Bass Speakers, Nitewalker Preamps, and Guardian Pro Cables.

In addition to Bob’s career in music performance, he is the Guitar, Keyboard & Music Technology teacher at Arundel High School in Anne Arundel County. Bob enjoys playing in pit orchestras and has worked with many schools and community theater productions, as well as the New York-based Infinity Theater Company. He is looking forward to being part of the 2019 Christmas Revelswww.bobabbottmusic.com


Washington Revels Brass

The Washington Revels Brass lends its joyful, clarion sound to every Christmas Revels production. Current performers include trumpeters Bob Birch (director and member of the group since 1996) and Fred Marcellus, hornist Andrew Houde, and trombonists Bryan Bourne and Jeff Gaylord, with percussionist Don Spinelli. The ensemble views itself in a certain sense as a microcosm of Revels everywhere: they have their own rituals, traditions, and personality. They differ from every other part of the Revels only in that their ways are largely invisible to all but themselves. (Photo Credit: Ryan Maxwell Photography)

Sponsorship & Advertising 

Sponsorship Opportunities for 2020

Your organization can help bring the magic of our Winter celebration to life! Several sponsorship opportunities are available, including:

  • Our Christmas Revels Outreach Performance
  • Any one of our 8 regular Christmas Revels performances
  • An entire Christmas Revels production (all 8 performances plus Outreach Performance)

For more information on sponsorships, please contact Ross Wixon at 301-830-4402 or at rwixon@revelsdc.org.

Program Ads

Connect with our Christmas Revels audience of 10,000! Our oversized souvenir program book helps you reach our patrons at the height of the holiday season. Interested in advertising with us? Email Ross Wixon at rwixon@revelsdc.org.

CR logo 300 pixelsOur flagship production, The Christmas Revels, is a festive, fully staged celebration of the Winter Solstice and the return of sun and light after the “shortest day,” radiating hope and joy in the renewal of life and the circle of the seasons. Seen by over 10,000 people every December, it draws on traditions and rituals from many lands and peoples, focusing each year on a different culture or related cultures.

Select a link below to learn more about that production.

 2011 Andalusian Production

2011-2018

 Photos from the Thomas Hardy Revels
2001-2010

 Photo from African-American Revels
1991-2000

  • 2000: Celtic
  • 1999: Celestial Fools
  • 1998: Shepherd Alley – Washington, D.C.
  • 1997: Medieval – King and the Fool
  • 1996: Northlands
  • 1995: French
  • 1994: Victorian
  • 1993: Celtic
  • 1992: Celestial Fools
  • 1991: Russian and American

 Photo from an early Washington Revels production
1983-1990

  • 1990: Medieval
  • 1989: Storybook
  • 1988: Medieval
  • 1987: Celtic
  • 1986: French
  • 1985: Appalachian-American (featuring Jean Ritchie)
  • 1984: “Haddon Hall”
  • 1983: Medieval