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Apocalypse Then

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Among the more exciting and ambitious theatrical events I witnessed last season was the revival of the eight-century-old melodrama Play of Antichrist, performed under the catchy modern title of Apocalypse Then by the fledgling American Medieval Players. For those who missed it, the AMP is offering a round of return engagements this weekend. The text of this allegorical play, based on the darkest prophecies in the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation and alluding to the dispute between the German monarch Frederick Barbarossa and the Church, vividly presents the world order of 12th-century Europe while warning against the seductive charms of the Antichrist and extolling the virtues of Christianity. The accompanying music was artfully reconstructed by local early-music specialist Andrew Schultze, using chants and various national court and troubadour songs of the same period pieced together after an exhaustive search of libraries in Europe. The scholarship paid off, of course; the performance I saw and heard was full of pageantry, histrionics, and beguiling voices, capped by Tom Orf's charismatic and debonair Antichrist. Orf, as before, heads the cast of 40 mostly professional actors and musicians, including members of the Burgundian Consort--all under the knowledgeable direction of Schultze. Also on display are colorful costumes and authentic heraldries. Thursday, March 17, 7:30 PM, First Methodist Church (1630 Hinman, Evanston). Friday, March 18, 7:30 PM, Saint Constance Church (5843 W. Strong). Saturday, March 19, 8 PM, University Church of Disciples of Christ (5655 S. University). Sunday, March 20, 4:30 PM, First Presbyterian Church (824 Waukegan Road, Deerfield). $15, $8 for students and seniors; 465-503l.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lascher.

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