Crystal Lake Central High School's Madrigal Dinner take diners on a trip back to the Renaissance Era. (Photo provided)
Crystal Lake Central High School's Madrigal Dinner take diners on a trip back to the Renaissance Era. (Photo provided)

For those involved with Crystal Lake Central High School’s Madrigal Dinner, the year isn’t complete without a trip back to the Renaissance era.

Having been part of the event since her freshman year, 18-year-old Jennifer Anderson has gained both experience and friendships participating as a server, or wench, an actress and now a singer.

“We get it all, music, acting, singing,” said Anderson, a senior.

“I do it because singing is my number one passion, and it’s really nice to be able to bring cheer to people around Christmastime,” she said.

The event, featuring performances from 20 singers, an acting troupe, brass players and students dressed in period clothes to serve dinner, takes place Dec. 13-15 at Crystal Lake Central High School, 45 W. Franklin St.

In all, about 100 students are involved, with work on the show beginning in October.

As the oldest school-sponsored Madrigal event in Illinois, the 42nd annual dinner has quite a reputation to uphold.

Based on ticket sales, the event remains as vibrant as ever.

With three shows already sold out, those still hoping to attend are asked to place their names on a waiting list at

“It’s overwhelming,” said music director Justin Hubly, who’s been involved with the event for a decade.

More than 500 people will see the show, which sells out every year, but typically not as quickly, he said.

“I think it’s a tradition, and people want to be entertained with the holidays,” he said.

Just as meals were consumed in the Medieval Times, visitors are encouraged to eat with their hands, though this year’s dinner includes a salad, Hubly said, so forks will be provided.

The music will include traditional Madrigal songs featuring a group of unaccompanied voices singing Renaissance-era music, as well as some revamped songs and even a couple of non-Christmas tunes, he said.

“It’s a wide variety of music,” he said.

Trevor Bryan, 17, will be taking part for the fourth year in a row, having auditioned to be part of the acting troupe his freshman year. Singing in the event this year, he hopes one day to teach theater or English.

“It’s so much fun, not only because I get to grow as a musician, but there’s also the friendships and bonds I’ve made along the way,” he said. “I love it so much. It’s really a chance to celebrate the holiday with your friends and family.”