Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Hansel and Gretel. It was directed and choreographed by Ernie Nolan and the book was by Ernie Nolan. The music and lyrics were by Justin Roberts. It was about a brother and sister named Hansel (Jack Ball) and Gretel (Alissa Walker) whose father (Pavi Proczko)was very poor and their mother (Jennifer T. Grubb) had disappeared. And they were going on a quest to find a magic troll named Ingmar (Brenton Abram-Copenhaver) that could grant wishes and would help them find her. But the problem is an evil witch Lotte (Danny Taylor) wants to use her wand outside of the forest and she needs the heart of a believer for her spell and she thinks that the believer is Hansel. I was very excited to see this show because I am a big Justin Roberts fan, and I wasn't disappointed at all. By the time the first song started, I was immediately captivated. Justin Roberts is good at making the song take you somewhere, back to your childhood (on his albums) or into the world of Hansel and Gretel. This show is funny, sweet, and the music is beautiful and rocking!
"Sugar is the Perfect Food" I thought was a really catchy song and I really really liked it. I liked that song because it was just so interactive with the stage. They'd just made this candy house and then they would unroll these fruit roll-ups out of the house and then basically roll themselves up and then eat them. It doesn't just tell kids, "Hey, you should eat a bunch of candy," because someone's heart is almost taken out afterwards. But it also celebrates how you can eat candy. Candy can give you different experiences. It can give you the experience of a stomach ache. Or it can give you the experience of having something sweet in your mouth. I thought that Hansel and Gretel did a great job singing this song and acting like kids around a house made of candy. I liked their faces when they first saw the candy house; it just seemed so much like, "I'm in shock. This can't be happening. I must be dreaming." But they are not, so they start eating it.
I really liked the song "Crumb by Crumb." I think everyone did an amazing job on this song, but Gretel was just mind-blowing throughout the entire time. She wasn't a regular Gretel, like a Gretel who is there for her brother and they go and almost get eaten by a witch. But here they were actually like a real brother and sister, which means that she acted like she wanted to be there for him but he still got on her nerves--a lot. She starts out being a really big cynic. She doesn't really believe in magic, or the troll, or her brother. I think that she's being perfectly fine, but no one else thinks it is perfectly fine to steal eggs so her family won't starve. You expect Gretel to be the perfect little child who would rather starve than give anyone inconvenience. But I like this Gretel better because no child is really perfect and she stands up for anything she believes in even if it's not what other people think. "Crumb by Crumb" shows you this about Gretel because she is going along and using all the resources she can to find her brother, but her father doesn't believe that she can do it. "Crumb by Crumb" is also really catchy and I think the lyrics worked so well with the situation. I absolutely loved it.
Lotte and Ingmar were supposed to be the "evil team," but they weren't because Ingmar was just too sweet and he was abducted by her. He didn't really want to be there, except that he could work more on his cooking. His two famous recipes were kuchen and strudel. And the kuchen is also a weapon, but you'll have to see the play to find out what I mean. I also really liked how he helped Hansel and Gretel but also sort of wanted to obey Lotte and kill them at the same time. Lotte I think is probably the best evil witch character I've ever seen. She wasn't so evil that you hated her, because you also realized why she was so sad and depressed that she wanted to rip children's hearts out: because when she was a girl she had to do everything herself. And then she had to sacrifice her heart for a map so she could find a troll who would grant her a wish. I think she would have been better if she hadn't had no help, no friends, and no good parents. I thought she was very sassy and snazzy and I absolutely loved her character.
People who would like this show are people who like amazing witch characters, candy houses, and comedy in the shape of a duck. I think people should definitely go see this show because it is a brand new kind of kids' musical. It doesn't have all the cheesy music. It has really good stuff that actually deals with people's feelings instead of just being like, "everything is happy and awesome!" But you don't leave the theater sad, because it still had that fairy-tale happy ending.
Photos: Johnny Knight