A Christmas Cracker “The Grand Old Duke of York” is styled in the best traditions of a Christmas parlour game much-loved by the Victorians. It is a humorous singing challenge crafted purely for audience participation.
After a short introduction the band vamps quietly whilst the conductor turns to the audience for the first time to tell them it is now time for a singing game where the Men will compete against the Women. “Before competition commences however let us just remind ourselves of how this well-known little verse goes by all singing it together”. The band plays the first verse with the audience singing along and then begins to vamp for a second time.
The conductor turns once more to the audience and this time invites the men to sing the verse, but with leaving out the word “up”. Every “up” sung by mistake incurs a penalty point. Any man who makes a mistake should stand up or raise a hand and be counted. Alternatively, a female member of the band can patrol the audience and honk on a bulb horn every time she hears the word “up” sung in error. Likewise, any member of the band who plays in a rest should stand up and be counted also to engender an increased sense of fun and team spirit with the audience. At the end of the second verse the band returns to the now familiar vamp.
The conductor turns to the audience once more and now invites the women to sing the verse but this time leaving out the word “down”. Similarly, every error equals a penalty point accompanied by a requirement to raise a hand or stand up and be counted. Alternatively a male member of the band can patrol the audience and crash a pair of cymbals or similar percussion instrument every time he hears the word “down”. Again, members of the band who play in a rest should stand up and be counted. At the end of the third verse the band returns to the vamp once more, but this time at a slightly quicker Tempo to increase the level of difficulty for what is coming next.
The conductor turns to the audience again and invites the men and women to sing the verse together but this time leaving out the words “up” and “down”. The same penalties apply to both audience and band for any and all errors. Alternatively, the two members of the band can patrol the audience sounding off repeatedly on the bulb horn and cymbals to make a cacophony of sound for every audible error.
After a short, final vamp, the verse is sung one last time by all whilst the penalty points are totalled to find a winner. The Christmas Cracker ends with comical gusto in a “concerto-style” finish.
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