In this hectic, noisy holiday season, we could all use some calm and peace.

A new production at Moline’s Black Box Theatre (1623 5th Ave.) provides that. The hour-long, intermission-less “All Is Calm” reflects the remarkable true story of the World War I Western Front (near Ypres, Belgium), on Christmas Eve, 1914. Out of the violence — a silence, then a song.

The “All Is Calm” cast features (L-R) Jorge Mende, Don Faust, Phillip Tunnicliff, Daniel Williams, and Kirsten Myers.

A German soldier steps into No Man’s Land singing “Stille Nacht” (“Silent Night”). Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie (among British and German soldiers), music, and peace. The Black Box Theatre presents the a-capella piece (no accompaniment) opening on Thursday, Dec. 8 and running through the 17th.

The show features Phil Tunnicliff, Ben Gougeon, Daniel Williams, Thayne Lamb, Don Faust, Drew DeKeyrel, Kirsten Myers, Vaughn Myers and Jorge Mendez, with musical direction by Ron May.

Lora Adams, the Black Box co-founder, staged and designed the production with Roger Pavey, Jr. creating the light design. “This is a very unique evening of theatre and tells a remarkable true story of Christmas Eve 1914,” Adams said recently. “With all of the holiday concerts, it was difficult to find men to audition, but I am so pleased that my cast is so enthusiastic about telling this story.

BBT co-founder Lora Adams is director of “All Is Calm.”

“I’m particularly blessed that Ron May came on board as the music director. This is a difficult piece and he’s the man to make it happen,” she said.

In a 2018 review, The New York Times wrote that “All Is Calm” is a “staunchly apolitical and warily genteel work. The descriptions of battle are restrained, the poetic excerpts polite. The Western Front seems a very decent sort of place, no blown out brains or trenchfoot here.

“The moral — that if we could only see each other as people, as singers in the same song, war would cease — is unimpeachable and very nice. But a century later, does heavenly peace feel any closer?” the review said.

Starting on Christmas Eve 1914, small pockets of French, German, Belgian and British troops held impromptu cease-fires across the Western Front, with reports of some on the Eastern Front as well, according to Some accounts suggest a few of these unofficial truces remained in effect for days.

For those who participated, it was a welcome break from the hell they had been enduring. When the war had begun just six months earlier, most soldiers figured it would be over quickly and they’d be home with their families in time for the holidays. Not only would the war drag on for four more years, but it would prove to be the bloodiest conflict ever up to that time.

Some 8.5 million soldiers died as a result of wounds and/or disease in World War I.

Nine men, all humanity

“All Is Calm” music director Ron May said Monday: “We don’t know exactly how much singing was there; we just know that they met and sang carols.” The nine characters in the show represent 39 soldiers who gathered during the Christmas truce.

Ron May is music director for “All Is Calm.”

What they sang ranged from “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” through Christmas carols and they ended with “Auld Lang Syne.”

The script quotes a solider saying this truce was extraordinary, that two opposing nations were both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.

“It’s very simple, but extremely moving,” May said of the show. Even with the challenges of so many holiday concerts and shows happening in the area, Black Box was able to find “nine talented gentlemen to put it together and it’s been a wonderful process,” he said. 

The arrangement of “Silent Night” (from which the show title is taken) is stunning, May said.

“It starts with a German soldier beginning it in German,” he said, noting it begins simply, grows more layered, rich and complex, and then ends simply again.

“And then they all join in little by little and then at one point, someone sings it in English,” May said. “There’s a little narration of what the soldiers were doing at the time. So one of the actors will step forward while the singing is going on and describe the scene from his journal entry.”

He hopes audiences will absorb its message of not only peace and compassion at the holidays, but the need for it all year long.

“Not just politically speaking, but we’re so fractured in our society these days, and one could go on and on to explain why that happened. But the point of this particular show is that here are two opposite people fighting each other, two groups of people killing each other,” May said. 

“And yet they find a moment to forget all about that. And their common humanity comes out, they sing Christmas carols. They forget about the tensions and the hatred and the violence and magic happens,” he said. “For me, what I would hope the audience would gather from this particular story, it’s not just a Christmas message of peace, but it’s a message that we can all take out into our own world and say, ‘why are we so divided?’ 

“We have such commonality that brings us together. That’s more important,” May said.

Cast member Ben Gougeon posted recently on Facebook: “Centered around WWI soldiers on both sides of the trenches stopping the war to celebrate Christmas in 1914, it’s a beautiful story with beautiful music. It’s been a really poignant show to work on, and can’t wait to share it with you all.”

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 9, 10, 15 and 17, and Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. The show will not be performed on the 16th as Wisenheimer, long-form improv will be taking over the stage.

Tickets are $16, available at the Black Box website.