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Little hands clap for successful Grimm tale

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to Natasha Dryden and Steven van Wyk  Pic 2 by Oscar O'Ryan

HANSEL AND GRETEL
DIRECTOR: Fred Abrahamse
CAST: Natasha Dryden, Earl Gregory, Candice van Litsenborgh, Steven van Wyk
VENUE: The Flipside Theatre, Baxter
UNTIL: January 11
RATING: ***

 

THE BAXTER Theatre Centre on a Saturday morning, awash with children who have just discovered the gingerbread house. Beyond cute.

If the mere thought of children high on slushies sends you running for the hills, do not read on.

The new Fred Abrahamse show is tailor-made for little people, aimed squarely at the under-10 market and not in any way meant for adults who watch theatre on their own.

“Maar waar’s Hansel?” was the first thing I heard when I sat down at the Flipside Theatre.

The tiny tot behind me was not impressed by mom and grandma’s intense conversation about work; she wanted the show to start already.

She soon got her wish, with all four characters coming on to stage and the action not stopping until three of them took a bow at the end.

This is the basic Grimm Brothers fairy tale (not the Grimm TV series version) so the witch gets it in the end and in order for good to triumph over evil, she can’t suddenly appear to take a bow – hence three at the end.

Unlike their previous pro- duction’s elaborate staging, this one keeps it simple with a painted backdrop and a hinged gingerbread house that opens up so that we can watch the action as it plays out inside.

The little person streaking across the stage mid-show did not faze the actors, who probably experienced much worse than the occasional bored or crying child when they started the show at Canal Walk.

Weeks into the production they are slick and steady and all four of them can sing really well – which keeps the adults’ attention.

The dads in the audience were laughing loudest at the stepmom’s harping at the beginning of the show, and Candice van Litsenborgh had some of the children in tears when she appeared as the witch.

She was suitably melodramatic as wicked stepmom and blind-but-crazy witch.

Natasha Dryden makes for a suitably disillusioned younger sister Gretel, but shows her resourcefulness once they are captured.

She keeps the attention focused even when she has to repeat her dialogue, while Steven van Wyk is sweetly believable as the brother trying to save them both.

Earl Gregory doesn’t get to do much more than be the worried dad, which he accomplishes with ease, and the show goes by quickly enough until he finds them again and everyone lives happily ever after.

Little people bobbing their heads and merrily clapping along says the production is a success and, yes, they will want to see it again.

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