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12th Night

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Longest-Running Tradition in Denver

Undoubtedly, the Club’s best-known tradition is Twelfth Night — a spoof of local, national, and international personalities and happenings of the previous year. Each show is written and presented by the Club's members in early January. Twelfth Night’s origins date back to when the members settled into their newly built clubhouse on Sherman Street in 1896 and is “the longest-standing tradition in Denver.”

Twelfth Night is undoubtedly the University Club's best-known and most prized tradition. The Twelfth Night shows are a spoof of local, national and international personalities and happenings of the previous year. Each annual show is written and presented by the Club's members in early January- no person or event is immune from the good spirited lampooning! 

The Club's Twelfth Night origins date back to when we settled into our newly built clubhouse on Sherman Street. With the opening slated for January 1, 1896, some members believed that the Club should not open with "old" booze, and set to finishing off the supply that had been brought from the old Club on New Year's Eve. What real success they had in that endeavor is unknown, but a simple story-telling contest emerged during that effort. So the members planned another for the following year. 

Around the Wassail Bowl in 1897, roughly twelve nights after Christmas, Twelfth Night began to evolve. The celebration harkened back to midwinter celebrations and even took on characteristics of certain medieval English festivals.

Nowadays, Twelfth Night kicks off in late October or early November when the King or Queen (the new Club President, elected right after the Annual Meeting), appoints the chairman of the show, known as The Fool.

To assist The Fool, a retreat is held in early December for those who write songs or dialogue, or otherwise help with the production of the show. At the retreat, food and drink stimulate the flow of creative juices. The King or Queen is also invited to attend, whether or not he or she has ever demonstrated any creative talent, whatsoever. 

Rehearsals begin in January and are held for approximately two weeks in the College Room. All Club Members are invited to participate in the production; New Members are especially encouraged to join the fray. The rehearsals themselves are great, light-hearted fun and often feature boisterous chorus renditions of "Down on the Farm," honoring the Fool, the King/Queen, the Music Director, the Assistant Fool and other worthy contributors to the shows success.

Twelfth Night 

Twelfth Night itself is a black tie affair, held on a Saturday evening. For the cast and past presidents of the Club, the evening starts with the President's Cocktail Party. With greetings of "Happy Twelfth Night," the rest of the assembled membership gathers for cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the upstairs bar and reading room.

Following a sumptuous dinner in the conversion of the College Room from a banquet hall to a theater, a raucous Twelfth Night parade begins. The oldest living Fool in attendance leads the parade, followed by a live band. The chefs and waiters carry litters of food (including a roasting suckling pig) and all the other delicacies to be served at the midnight supper. Then come U Club's past presidents in their regal robes, the King or Queen, the Fool and finally, the costume members of the cast. 

When order has been restored and the members are seated, the Twelfth Night show begins with the Fool, bedecked in a jester's colorful costume, stepping through the closed curtain, looking up from the stage to the balcony, proclaiming: "M'Lord, again, the players are assembled!" Thus begins the snappy King-Fool dialogue, which always concludes with the royal commandment: "Let mirth be unrefined!" The curtain then parts, as the cast belts out the opening chorus. 

A remarkable performance follows that which can only be experienced.