The Story of Hansel and Gretel
by J*Company

Sara Frank and Nathan WetterA house hidden deep in the woods made out of candy and gingerbread. Naturally, young siblings Hansel and Gretel, who are lost and hungry, walk right into the witch’s trap. Where, it turns out, the witch is hungry, too!

This ancient fairy tale, popularized by the Grimm Brothers, gets a lighter retelling in this fun, fresh production written by Vera Morris and Bill Francouer, and directed by J*Company’s Joey Landwehr. And he has directed an amusing and enchanting production with a young cast of actors age thirteen and younger who turn in truly impressive performances.

The tale begins with a song by Siren the Storyteller, with nine-year-old Madison Simpson introducing us to the story with her stunning, spellbinding voice. Starring in The Story of Hansel and Gretel are Nathan Wetter and Sara Frank. Nathan is an impulsive and always-hungry Hansel who eats his poor parents out of house and home, but then feels bad about it afterwards. Sara beautifully and often subtly portrays a sweet, responsible, and intelligent Gretel who cares for her brother but isn’t shy about reprimanding him when his actions harm the family. Together they play and fight as brothers and sisters will do, and show some tender caring for one another, highlighted by the scene when they are alone at night in the forest and sing each other to sleep with a lullaby.

Josh Shtein, Becca Myers, and Ari KrasnerAnd then there’s the bad, old witch – Ginny The Gingerbread Witch played by the hysterical Becca Myers. She gets the best lines and songs in the show, and Becca delivers them with style, bounds of creativity, and great comedy with her voice, laugh, and body language. She shines trying to scare the young audience members (who boo her with enthusiasm) as she sings her autobiographical song about how she wants to put everyone in her tum-tum-tummy, and in her Latin-flavored Hocus-Pocus cooking song in which she gets super-excited about food – everything from Spam to paprika (the latter almost makes her faint).

The cast is full of other great performances including Jessica Muchnick as Lydia, a hilarious gypsy woman who warns the children and townspeople about the witch with great expressions and melodramatic flair. Hansel and Gretel ignore the warnings along with their soon-to-be-in-danger friends (Maddie Houts, Megan Phillips, Kelsey Barnhill, and Celia Tedde – the latter of whom smothers Hansel with affection). Danielle Levin and Sam Jacobs are Hansel and Gretel’s parents struggling to survive. Josh Shtein and Ari Krasner team up humorously as the witch’s clownish goblin assistants Frick and Frack. Shaina Krevat is Twila The Twoll, a frustrated bridge troll with a lisp.

And the forest is full of other magical and mesmerizing creatures who try to protect the young children including a Dew Princess (Michelle Guefen), a bunch of Droplets led by Gaby Greenwald, a bunch of Pebbles led by Cameron Chang, and a Sandman (Myles Collinson). Then there are the three mischievous echos (Lindsey Morrison, Danya Greenberg, and Rebecca Penner) who like to tease strangers in the woods, but they don’t like it when people figure out they are merely echoes. A bunch of kid-sized Gingerbread Cookies dance around the witch’s house – a fate Hansel and Gretel hope to avoid!

Joey Landwehr does a marvelous job with this production, as does his fantastic cast and top-quality designers including Lisa Forrest’s countless charming and imaginative costumes, Jennifer Setlow’s pleasant lighting, and remarkably attractive sets designed by Syd Stevens, all of which help to enhance the magical spell this production casts.

Performed May 11-20, 2007.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Hansel: Nathan Wetter
Gretel: Sara Frank
Siren the Storyteller: Madison Simpson
Fredricka: Maddie Houts
Susie: Megan Phillips
Sally: Celia Tedde
Johanna: Kelsey Barnhill
Lydia: Jessica Muchnick
Frick: Josh Shtein
Frack: Ari Krasner
Ginny the Gingerbread Witch: Becca Myers
Mother: Danielle Levin
Father: Sam Jacobs
Twila The Twoll: Shaina Krevat
Wendel The Wise Ol' Owl: Elisa Greenberg
Dew Princess: Michelle Guefen
Repetition The Echo: Lindsey Morrison
Reiteration The Echo: Danya Greenberg
Reverberation The Echo: Rebecca Penner
Sandman: Myles Collinson
Casper: Dominic Riolo
Katrina: Elianna De Quesada
Limniad, Head of the Droplets: Gaby Greenwald
Harmattan, Head of the Pebbles: Cameron Chang

Adreana Izotov
Lily Katzeff
Ilana Mereminsky
Ali Nussbaum
Lou Rasse
Marissa Wolfsheimer

Vincent Chenneveau
Aaron Chow
Darren Chow
Josh Jacobs
Nathan Miller
Nathaniel Pick
Alec Ruiz de Castilla
Matthew Schaerer

Gingerbread Cookies:
Alison Carey
Mikayla Chang
Julian Coker
Rachel Friedman
Hannah Houts
Morgan Hubers
Margaret Izotov
Kate Jensen
Paulina Klemm
Geneva Kotler
Gabriella Leibowitz
Gabriela Lipson
Samantha Pollak
Jonna Schreibman
Rebecca Shanks
Cassidy Turek

Children of the Town:
Mackenzie Bath
Phelan Bowie
Elanna Butler
Tali Edid
Michael Edzant
Ginevra Francesconi
Jordan Friedman
Gaby Katzenelson
Sadie Kennedy
Devyn Krevat
Gabrielle LeRose
Sarah Levi
Sydney Maloney
Annelise Pell
Brooke Posnock
Derek Rosner

Director: Joey Landwehr
Musical Director: Susan Lavoie
Set Designer: Syd Stevens
Lighting Designer: Jennifer Setlow
Costume Designer: Lisa Forrest
Sound Designer: Scott Westrick
Stage Manager: Nick Mata


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