Christmas Plays at the Chalet School

The annual Christmas play is first introduced in Jo of the Chalet School and turns into a tradition that continues until the final books of the series. Authored either by Madge or Joey, who fit the parts to the pupils, the story of the play varies, but the theme is always the same - Christian love. Although in later books it becomes a rule that girls sitting public examinations must not have a major part, the entire school takes part in the play in one way or another and rehearsals were an important part of the Christmas term. The final dress rehearsal was attended by the local people and domestic staff, while the actualy performance, given on the last day of term, was attended by those parents who could make it to the school. There was no admittance charge but a collection was made in aid of the Sanatorium. No applause was allowed at the performances, which were given in English often with carols from many countries in many languages.

Jo of the Chalet School
The first Christmas play to grace the stage of the Chalet School is a traditional Navity preceeded by a concert. The concert, directed by Mr. Denny, seems to be a talent show more than a carol service, the programme being as follows:
* How Fair the Sun
* My Bonny Lass, She Smileth
* A piano solo by Margia
* Martini's Preghiera for the violin by Gisela
* A pianoforte duet of Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave by Grizel and Frieda
* Come, all you valiant Christian men
This is followed by an interval before the Navity play is performed. The first Chalet School Christmas play is entitled The Youngest Shepherd and is penned by Madge. According to the authoress, the play is based on the story of the angel of the Navitity telling the "shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night" of Christ's birth. More carols are sung during the play:
* Good Christian men, rejoice
* In the Field with their Flocks Abiding
* Cherry Tree
* There came three kings
* When the Crimson Sun had Set (Gloria in excelsis Deo)
* Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
* Bird
* The First Nowell
* Come to the Manger in Bethlehem
* Adeste Fideles
* Sleep, Holy Babe
* Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning

The entire school acts in the Navity play and several roles are identified with girls:
* the Youngest Shepherd - Joey Bettany
* the Madonna - Wanda von Eschenau
* Joseph - Luigia di Ferrara
* a tiny cherub - Robin
The play is, of course, a complete success and becomes the talking point of the lake for many days. Read The Youngest Shepherd.

Rivals of the Chalet School
The second Christmas play is once more penned by Madge, now Madge Russell. Entitled The Guest it tells the story of a ragged Child trying to find shelter for the night. He is eventually taken in by a charcoal-burner and his family. Interspersed with this tale, based on a Black Forest legend, are scenes from the first Christmas. Although the play is never performed, due to an outbreak of chicken pox at the school, we are informed of the castings in more detail than usual:
* the Virgin - Marie von Eschenau
* the charcoal-burner - Mary Burnett
* the charcoal-burner's wife - Vanna di Ricci
* a wealthy city lady - Deira O'Hagan
* wealthy city lady's children - Simone Lecoutier, Bianca di Ferrara, Margia Stevens and Irma von Rothenfels
* the charcoal-burner's children - seven of the middles and juniors
* the innkeeper - Paula von Rothenfels
* Archangel Gabriel - Joey Bettany
* the Child - Robin Humphries
* Archangel Michael - Frieda Mensch
* Archangel Raphael - Evadne Lannis
Read The Guest.

Exploits of the Chalet Girls
This time, a pageant of Christmas through the ages is on offer. Beginning in the Middle Ages and ending in the modern day, a procession of people join the Spirit of Christmas and her servants to tell them of how they each celebrate Christmas. Once more, plenty of carols form part of the narrative, and one, Tempus adest florium, written by Madge for the occassion, is reported as actually being a small play.
* Torches
* The Birds
* Welcome Yule, thou merry man
* From Far Away We Come Unto You
* Lord Jesus hath a garden
* Ein Kindlein in der Wiegen (The Baby in the Cradle)
* Puer natus in Bethlehem
* Ich weiss ein lieblich Engelspiel (I know a lovely angel game)
* Tempus adest florium
* Quem Pastores
* Lullay, thou little tiny child
* Nazareth
* Christmas Song

Again, the whole school takes part in the play and even Thekla is given a part.
* Love - Robin
* Lead Soloist & Joseph - Joey Bettany
* the Spirit of Christmas - Simone Lecoutier
* Candle - Cornelia Flower
* Snapdragon - Evadne Lannis
* Peace - Carla von Flugen
* Goodwill - Sophie Hamel
* the Landlord - Thora Helgersen
* a 12th century lady - Frieda Mensch
* Christmas Tree - Thekla von Stift
* the Madonna - Marie von Eschenau
We are given some additional information this time - the identities of the orchestra are revealed.
* Herr Anserl - piano
* Herr Helfen - violin
* Frau Linders - cello
* Mr Denny - flute
* Miss Stewart - viola
* Herr Laubach - glockenspiel
As expected the play is a success, surpassing all given by the school in the past.

Jo Returns to the Chalet School
The fourth annual Christmas Play, The Bells of Christmas, once more moves between time periods. We first meet an ill child, her mother and maids, all from the fourteenth century. Next three poor children and their mother. Third comes a group of gypsies and fourth the members of a royal court. To all of these groups different spirits appear, spreading the joy of Christmas. The final scene is the traditonal nativity. Although the book does not mention the author of the play (presumably it was Madge again), we are told that Madge has penned several new carols and Mr Denny has composed their music. We are only given the words to one of these carols - Christmas Bells.
* Christmas Bells
* In dulci jubilo
* The carol of the snow
* On Christmas Day in the Morning
* Legend of the Christmas Rose
* Quoi ma voisine?
* Hajej nynje/Little Jesus, sweetly sleep
* The carol of love
* O, deued pob cristion/All poor men and humble
* Congaudeat turba fidelium
* Adeste Fideles

Plenty of details again about the cast and we are told that the Spirits are the school's top soloists.
* Spirit of the Bells - Joey Bettany
* Spirit of the Snow - Cornelia Flower
* Spirit of the Christmas Rose - Evadne Lannis
* Spirit of the Holly - Yvette Mercier
* Spirit of Love - Eustacia Benson
* Sick 14th Century Child - Robin Humphries
* 14th Century Lady - Anne Seymour
* St Joseph - Thora Helgersen
* the Madonna - Louise Redfield
For the second time, some of the orchestra are named:
* Herr Laubach - glockenspiel

The Highland Twins at the Chalet School
The school's first play in Britain play is entitled The Message of Christmas. This time the play takes a more traditional form as we follow the story of the nativity from The Three Kings to the manger, interspersed with modern scenes. This time Joey not only writes the play (her first one!) but manages to pen two or three original carols, set to music by Mr Denny and Herr Anserl. Lots of varied carols again, but we are only given the lyrics of one of Joey's - Christmas is near. We are also told that the school sing the English verion of Voisin, d'ou venait ce grand bruit by the poet Eleanor Farjeon.
* Three Kings are here
* Song of the Ship
* Out of your sleep arise and wake!
* The First Noel
* Christmas is near
* Sing, good company, frank and free
* How far is it to Bethlehem?
* Voisin, d'ou venait ce grand bruit
* Adeste Fideles

Some of the casting decisions are also mentioned:
* Chief Soloist/Angel - Joanna
* Munitions Worker - Daisy Venables
* School Child 1 - Sybil Russell
* School Child 2 - Peggy Bettany
* Soldier - Monia Marilliar
* Old Gaffer - Elizabeth Arnett
* The Madonna - Robin Humphries
* Joseph - Emmie Linders
* Shepherd 1 - Fiona McDonald
* Shepherd 2 - Mr Griffiths
Although we are not given many identities, the orchestra once more merits a mention:
* 3 violins
* 1 viola
* 1 'cello
* A harp
* Glockenspiel - Herr Laubach

The Mystery at the Chalet School
Joey's second Christmas play is all that could be wanted. This time, however, no title is mentioned. We learn that the play is given on the last Saturday of term, the hall having been decorated the night before, and that unnamed men are in charge of the technical aspects of the performance while Miss Linton appears to be in charge of the props. The play shows how Christmas is celebrated in different places at different periods in history - an English manor from the Middle Ages, a modern Breton fisherman's cottage, a Russian log hut and, finally, a Manger in Bethlehem. As always various foreign carols are named.
* Stars all brightly gleaming
* Board's Head Carol
* On Christmas Day in the Morning
* Fesans Raijouissance
* Dors, Saint Enfant

* a Russian carol in English
* Dans cet Etable
* Tyrley, Tyrlow
* Patapan!
* Adeste Fideles

Lots of details on the minor parts in the play, as well as some of the soloists.
* An old French fishwife - Dorcas Brown
* Archangel Gabriel - Gay Lambert
* A young woman - Gillian Culver
* A musician/soloist - Jacynth Hardy
* Prompter - Joey Maynard
* Middle Ages gentleman - Lois Bennett
* Middle Ages lady - Meg Farrant
* Middle Ages Boy 1 - Frances Coleman
* Middle Ages Boy 2 - Peggy Burnett
* Middle Ages Boy 3 - Marie Varrick
* Middle Ages Boy 4-7 - 4 Lower Fourth formers
* Middle Ages Boy 8 - Wolferl Wertheimer
* Solo Soprano/the Blessed Virgin - Daisy Venables
* Young Russian woman - Jesanne Gellibrand
The orchestra are mentioned but not named, although it is mentioned that Miss Stewart must ring a bell to start them. There are also numerous mentions of the choir - before it seemed that the girls sang from behind stage, waiting to go on for their parts, but this might indicate a choir seperate from the actors.

Shocks for the Chalet School
The next play in Britain is The Three Kings and follows the journey of the Three Kings to Bethlehem. Madge Russell is the author and has, we are told, stuck closely to St Matthew's account in places.
* I saw three ships
* Three Kings from Persian lands afar
* Now every child that dwells on earth
* A little child on earth has been born
* Angelus ad Virginem
* O Jesulein suss, O Jesulein mild/Oh wee Jesus sweet, Oh wee Jesus mild
* We three kings of orient are
* How brightly gleams the morning star
* Le vermeil du soleil
* King Herod and the Cock
* God Rest you Merry, Gentlemen
* The Messiah
(orchestra only)
* Dans cette etable
* Cuckoo carol
* Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
* Adeste Fideles
* All hail, the power of Jesu's Name
(orchestra only)
Details of casting again, but this time we're also told the true identity of the producer...
* An angel - Mary-Lou Trelawney
* A King - Lesley Pitt
* The Madonna/Soloist - Loveday Perowne
* Angel/Soloist - Verity-Anne Carey
* Small boy - Maeve Bettany
* Old King - Nancy Chester
* Warrior - Primrose
* Herod - Tom Gay
* Queen Elpis - Rosalie Way
* A shepherd - Emerence Hope (should have been page-boy)
* Small page-boy - Angela Carter
* Producer - Miss Stephens
* Soloist - Madge Herbert
Ony one name from the "tiny" orchestra this year, just a list of instruments:
* piano
* fiddle
* 'cello
* flute
* glockenspiel - Herr Laubach

The Chalet School and Barbara
The school's first Christmas play in the Bernese Oberland is entitled Strangers at the Inn. Opening in a 'bar parlour', a tall man books a room for the night. Later, a man, woman and small child burst in, half frozen, and beg for food and shelter. Sadly, there are no more available rooms. The tall man offers the small family the use of his room saying that as it is Christmas Eve, he will sleep downstairs in memory of the First Christmas. In the next scene, a poor Tirolean landlord offers shelter to a family of fugitives. Next comes the Children's Crusade episode where a group of child crusaders find shelter in a tavern. The final scene is, as usual, the scene of the First Christmas. Again, a variety of carols from a variety of lands are sung. And once again Madge has invented a new carol to fit with the play. The carol, Who comes this way by the cold starlight? is set to music composed by Jacynth Hardy.
* Brightest and Best of the Songs of the Morning
* The Shepherd's Carol
* Rocking
* Who comes this way by the cold starlight?
* The Moon Shines Bright
* Sing Good Company, Frank and Free
* Rorate Coeli Desuper
* How far is it to Bethlehem?
* Three Kings from Persian Lands afar
* Masters in this Hall
* In the fields with their flocks abiding
* Gloria
* Sleep, Holy Babe
* Adeste

Again plenty of students are named as having distinct roles, while others are simply choir or angels. We are also told that, this year, the orchestra is made up of girls from Welsen.
* Barmaid - Edris Young
* Mary - Verity-Anne Carey
* Mary's father - Jean Ackroyd
* Mary's mother - Blossom Willoughby
* Fugitive man - Ruth Wilson
* Fugitive woman - Julie Lucy
* Fugitive baby - Felicity Maynard
* Children's Crusade landlord - Valerie Arnott
* Children's Crusade landlord's wife - Rosalind Wynyard
* Child Crusader 1 - Margot Maynard
* Child Crusade Leader - Mary-Lou Trelawney
* Child Crusader 2 - Josette Russell
* Child Crusader 3 - Maeve Bettany
* St. Joseph - Nora Penley
* the Madonna - Sybil Russell.

Redheads at the Chalet School
This years Christmas play, written by Joey Maynard, tells the story of Sarah, a girl discontented with everything, especially Christmas. The next morning she awakes to find that her father has lost all of his money and they are now very poor. For a time, Sarah continues to grumble, but the illness of her father helps her to become a far nicer person. During her father's operation, the scene changes to show the first Christmas and then changes back to Sarah, who's father is well and has recovered some of his fortune.
Once again, the play is peppered by various carols, with yet another created especially for the play - Strangers are come to the busy inn, written by Joey with the music composed by Nina Rutherford.
* Sing we Christmas blithe and free
* Sleep ,my Saviour, Sleep
* Drei Konige
* Il n'y a pas une place
* Strangers are come to the busy inn
* Adeste

This time the orchestra is named as the School Orchestra and the Special Art Class are credited with the sets. Plenty of students are name in the description of the play:
* Sarah - Jane Carew
* Sarah's Guardian Angel 1 - Felicity Maynard
* Sarah's Guardian Angel 2 - Wanda von Eschenau
* Sarah's Aunt - Ruey Richardson
* Shepherd - Flavia Ansell
* the Madonna - Priscilla Dawbarn
* St Joseph - Ricki Fry
* a small boy - Jack Lambert

Challenge for the Chalet School
* Good King Wenceslas
* Gloria in Excelsis Deo
* Adeste