If you follow the breadcrumbs to The Court Theatre these school holidays you’ll find fairy-tale characters Hansel and Gretel on stage, performing a comedic adaptation of the Brothers Grimm classic that’s perfect for little ones aged 3 – 7.
In this silent adaptation dialogue is replaced by action, the actors telling the story through physical clowning aided by radio announcements that help progress the plot.
The classic story remains, following a young brother and sister as they get lost in the forest where a hungry witch is waiting for them…
Director Dan Bain calls the show, “a very traditional version of the story, told in an untraditional way. I like it because it's all about temptation – can you resist the witch’s treats? It’s the precursor to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
Bain, who is also the Associate Director at The Court, oversees the theatre’s programme of kids shows, most recently having directed his own kids show A Paintbox of Clowns earlier this year.
Kids are sure to be entertained by the big, visual comedy on stage in Hansel and Gretel – and the participation they’ll be invited to take part in.
One of the integral pieces of the play is the set - a world of gingerbread and lollies, designed by Nigel Kerr.
“We’re limited in some respects with Hansel and Gretel living on the set of Mum’s Choir, but we’re making a couch out of gingerbread and there will be some very cool candy decorations to look out for,” says Bain.
The costumes will also be something to admire, with Hayley Douglas designing a set of colourful, bright, circus outfits for the cast.
“Hayley’s costume designs are really beautiful – she’s really picked up on the ‘20s circus vibe that the play has, which is great.”
Douglas’ costumes have another function, helping to turn actor Jared Corbin into the multiple characters he’ll be portraying in the show. Corbin (a veteran Jester and actor at The Court) will be performing quick costume changes to play the roles of Hansel and Gretel’s dad, the witch, the witch pretending to be Hansel and Gretel’s stepmother and the King of the Birds.
“He’ll be quite busy!” Bain says.
Joining Corbin are John Armstrong as Hansel (most recently seen at The Court in Ideation) and Millie Hanford as Gretel (a Court Jester herself who played Blue in A Paintbox of Clowns earlier this year).
Hansel and Gretel is sure to be a vibrant and joyous kids show audiences have come to expect from The Court, with plenty of chances for small audience members to get involved with the performance.
For those requiring a more subdued environment, there will be a relaxed performance of Hansel and Gretel on the 13th October at 11am.
A relaxed performance is designed to reduce noise and movement during the performance to make the experience as comfortable as possible for audience members with sensory needs.
“This type of play and this type of storytelling is ideally suited for a relaxed performance audience because it's not so heavy on the verbal,” Bain says. “It tells the story visually, so I think it's easier to follow along and keep track of. The clowns are gentle, so it’ll be a great show for that audience.”
While there is a little darkness inherent in the story of Hansel and Gretel, Bain promises that it’s just the right amount for its young audience.
“There are pieces that are a bit spooky. It does involve Hansel and Gretel getting lost in the forest and the witch trying to eat them - and it's hard to tell the story without that - but (spoilers!) it all turns out okay in the end. I think if you're going to do these shows; the traditional fairy-tales, you want to use what's there, rather than inventing something else. Kids like spooky things: when it's a bit gross or a bit scary, but in a cool, fun way they're quite into it.”
Hansel and Gretel runs at The Court Theatre as part of New Zealand Theatre Month from 29 September – 13 October 2018 with a relaxed performance of the show being hosted on 13th October at 11am. Recommended ages are 3 – 7 with all tickets $10. Click here to find out more and book tickets.