In ‘All Is Calm,’ Thrilling Song in the Trenches

"More extraordinary is the beauty of the songs, shrewdly arranged by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach.... The plangent tenors, lush baritones and rumbling basses are in excellent voice, and when they come together, the sensation is tremendous and the musical chill effect engulfing. I can’t have been the only person who spent the evening in a pretty much constant state of horripilation. The show is a lesson, if any were needed, in music as a vehicle for emotion. More than the story, it is the music that moves."

Alexis Soloski, New York Times
All Is Calm

"The writer and director Peter Rothstein, who leads Minneapolis’s Theatre Latté Da, has captured that remarkable moment with an ingenious hybrid of documentary theatre and musical revue. Over the show’s seventy-five minutes, a transcendentally talented chorus of ten men performs thirty-three songs from the era, layered with dozens of first-person accounts of the war and the truce, some by the war’s great poets, such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. It never feels rushed—just extremely well conceived."

Rollo Romig, New Yorker

"Sorrowful though its true story may be, All Is Calm proves to be an unusually inspiring musical event for the holiday season."

Michael Sommers, New York Stage Review
Next Stop, Broadway? The Brilliant ‘Downstairs’ and ‘All Is Calm’

"The superb All Is Calm leaves us mulling the terrible futility and cost of war, while crystallizing a moment of beautiful humanity."

Tim Teeman, Daily Beast
New staging of 'All Is Calm' brings clarity, power

"This beautiful jewel has been made brighter, more precious in the best sense of the word. What is unchanged is its quiet power to illustrate peace on Earth."

Graydon Royce, Minneapolis Star Tribune
All is Calm is filled with grace, beauty, and stillness

"All is Calm is a show of grace, beauty, and stillness and a reminder the true spirit of Christmas can be found in all of us – no matter the situation, no matter how small."

Chelsey Stuyt, Vancouver Presents
'All is Calm' is a powerful, lovely play about an ugly time in history

"This sense of verisimilitude is part of what gives 'All is Calm' its poignancy and its charm.... The real-life telling gets depth, texture and additional historical context from the songs, which are masterfully delivered by Cantus."

Dominic P. Papatola, St. Paul Pioneer Press
'All is Calm' in Berkeley

All is Calm puts a human face on WWI.”

Joshua Kosman, SFGate
North American Live Choice

“One of the top live events for Christmas in North America.”

Brian Wise, BBC Music Magazine
"All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914" at the Pantages Theatre Captures the Spirit of Christmas
"'All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914' is a play that you shouldn’t miss."
Maggie Fisher, Twin Cities Daily Planet
Cantus sings of Christmas peace
"The performance has a timeless air of mystery and wonder."
Graydon Royce, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"This raw and aching beauty defines 'All Is Calm.' Rothstein's decision to let the men speak for themselves seems wiser than ever, for these words assume a sacred quality. They carry the hopes and the amazement of young men terrorized by war and then healed by a moment of mysterious mercy. In this, 'All Is Calm' becomes a small, still litany, taking details of history and transforming them into something far greater -- a myth that manifests the highest ideals of humanity." Read More...
Graydon Royce, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Writer Peter Rothstein learned about this unheard of Christmas truce and, working with the members and directors of Cantus, put together a riveting musical and spoken performance titled 'All Is Calm.'

"Last Friday night, Cantus held a Napa Valley Opera House audience spellbound as the details of this remarkable calm in the trenches were laid out."

L. Pierce Carson, Napa Valley Register

"The program-a collaboration between Theater Latté Da, Hennepin Theatre Trust, and the male ensemble Cantus, who provide the stunning and almost ceaseless vocals-is not quite a play, but more like a vocal retelling of history.

"Because of the show's sheer beauty we are left with this imperfect, but not all together unsatisfactory, answer to the soldier's question. The story of the Christmas truce teaches us that at our best we are capable of laying down our guns and lifting our voices as one."

Madeline Salmon, Twin Cities Daily Planet
"All Is Calm first premiered in 2007, and the Hennepin Theater Trust continues to stage the show each year at Christmas time to remind audiences of one of the most magical Christmas tales of all. It is a wonderful break from the hustle and bustle of the corporatized holiday season, reminding us all that sometimes the best gives we receive are the simplest ones." Read More...
Becki Iverson, Twin Cities Metro
A separate peace
"This is a true ensemble show, and each performer fully carried his weight. But greatest credit must go to Rothstein and musical arrangers Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach, whose music and story seamlessly intertwined."
Matt McGeachy, Minnesota Playlist
"But especially thanks to the nine men of Cantus, whose harmonies are the heart and spirit of this work. It is they who vividly convey the combination of excitement and fear as soldiers answer the call to arms, their sadness as death tolls mount, and the hope and wonder as the truce ensues. The stories are strong, but it's the music that makes "All Is Calm" such a touching experience." Read More...
Rob Hubbard, St. Paul Pioneer Press
All Is Calm
"Channeled through the impeccably layered vocals of chamber ensemble Cantus, songs combine with stories in paying solemn tribute to a universal humanity indivisible by dogmatic ideologies and national identities. In these ever combative times, such unbroken harmony represents nothing less than a genuine yuletide miracle."
Brad Richason, City Pages
"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." Read More...
Ed Huyck, Minneapolis City Pages
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<p class="embeddedPhotoCaption">In "All is Calm," three actors join the nine singers of Cantus to tell the story of soldiers who defied orders and stopped fighting during World War I</p>
"And if a classic work is marked by its capacity to stretch and deepen in meaning on repeated viewings, then "All is Calm" seems destined to become timeless. Even without an ornament or a shred of red drapery anywhere on its stark set, 'All is Calm' has no peer in the Christmas theatrical sweepstakes -- on the terms of celebrating the possibility of peace on earth, goodwill to all." Read More...
Graydon Royce, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"'All is Calm' is a tremendously moving work that pulls hope from a hopeless situation, its words directly from the mouths and pens of the participants, its music able to bring both warmth and chills." Read More...
Rob Hubbard, St. Paul Pioneer Press
"The entire performance was memorized, so no annoying books were being bobbled around, allowing the singers and actors to communicate completely with the audience. It is rare to hear professional vocal ensembles 'off of their music' these days and this reviewer was thrilled." Read More...
Megan Browne Helm,
"The men of Cantus are simply magnificent in their interpretations. You will never hear some of these songs in quite the same way again." Read More...
Lydia Howell, Twin Cities Daily Planet
"The story of the Christmas truce of 1914, long denied access to history books, is becoming an annual holiday classic thanks to the musical ‘All is Calm'" Read More...
Tricia Cornell, Minneapolis Downtown Journal
"'Many historians credit 'Silent Night' with being the song that actually started the truce,' Humble said. 'People said the Germans started it, and the English recognized the song as something that was sung in England as well.'" Read More...
Patrick S. Pemberton, San Luis Obispo Tribune
"Around this time last year, Rothstein enlisted the ideal collaborators for his piece in Cantus, a nine-man male chorus that started life at Northfield's St. Olaf College. Now they've revived 'All is Calm,' which opened a six-performance run at Minneapolis' Pantages Theatre on Thursday night. And it's not only an outstanding piece of musical theater, but a brilliantly executed production that understands that its power comes from its simplicity."
Rob Hubbard, St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Above all, though, Rothstein and Cantus (led by artistic director Erick Lichte) find the ineffable mystery of this story: German and Allied voices take on haunting resonance, singing 'Stille Nacht' on a field normally thundering with artillery; a French opera tenor amazes comrades by spontaneously singing 'O Holy Night'; the 23rd Psalm is solemnly recited in English and German as enemies honor their fallen; the sheer felicity of the moment is reflected in one soldier's observation that 'we were laughing and chatting with men we were trying to shoot hours before./" Read More...
Graydon Royce, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"But it's the voices of the Cantus singers that make most of the magic in this show. Even when they're singing moldy oldies like 'Pack up Your Troubles' (in your old kit bag, and smile, smile . . .) or holiday staples like 'O Tannenbaum' and 'Good King Wencenslas,' the arrangements are sophisticated and the execution superb. Cantus' version of 'Silent Night' blends German and English lyrics with six-part harmonies to create an almost unbearably sad coda to the events of that night. In fact, the sound Cantus produced on Friday night was so undeniably sacred that, when the show ended, no one in the audience Friday night wanted to be the first to break the spell. We all sat in silence, wondering who would be the first to clap." Read More...
Tad Simons, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine
"All Is Calm inspires with a view of human goodness that extends beyond nationality. In this holiday season, when we speak most highly of peace on Earth, All Is Calm provides the actual realization of those words. Instead of a seasonal slogan, All Is Calm shows a universal goodwill that could be a reality if only we have the courage to act in accordance with our shared humanity." Read More...
Brad Richason, Twin Cities Examiner
"'All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914' is on my must-see list this year. Last year, the original work of musical theater was the talk of the Twin Cities, impressing critics and audiences alike. It sold out with 3,000 people attending performances at three churches in the area."
Camille LeFevre, MinnPost
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