‘Hansel and Gretel’ at Quintessence Theatre Group in Philadelphia, PA

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While all of us are familiar with the story of the two siblings wandering into a witch’s candy house in the woods, Quintessence puts a fun spin on the story. With catchy songs, fun characters, and stories within the story, Hansel and Gretel is an entertaining show for the entire family.

While the original Brothers Grimm fable has some darkness in it, the utilization of this darkness works for the world. Many anecdotes and fables are told by the characters in the larger plot of Hansel and Gretel, teaching more lessons in each anecdote: charity, gluttony, bravery, and family.

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Quintessence Artistic Director Alexander Burns builds a fun world with choreography by Kaki Burns and Alexander Burns. Original music and lyrics composed by David Cope are executed by the talented, six-person cast. Faith Fossett music directs the show, as well as stars in it as the malicious Stepmother.

Hansel (Sean Bradley) and Gretel (Clare O’Malley) are charming and lovable as the two protagonists, specifically in their duets “Come and Dance With Me” and “Our Troubles Are Over.” Due to the many stories within the story, the rest of the cast plays a variety of different characters with ease. Alan Brincks plays the loving Father to Hansel and Gretel, but also portrays a hilarious and helpful Snowbird. Anita Holland is scary Witch, while Bob Stineman supplements the show with many different characters, from the Duck to a hilarious baking back up dancer.

Scenic design by Alexander Burns consisted of a white flat with two doors upstage, giving a blank slate for John William’s sketchy, fun projections setting the scene for houses, ovens, and more. In front of the projections, fun pieces wheeled onstage, like baking tables and bunk beds.

Lighting design was full of rainbows, bright cues, and quick changes the entire show. Costumes by Jane Casanave create new characters for every scene is fun way, from a top hat and bowtie wearing cat to an evil cupcake baking witch.

To quote Burns’ curtain speech: “Adults, please awake the 10-year-old inside of you.” With children punctuating the show with commentaries, laughs, and shrieks of joy, Hansel and Gretel will warm your heart. It’s the perfect holiday show.

Running time: One hour and 50 minutes, with a 10-minute intermission.

Hansel and Gretel plays through January 3, 2015 at Quintessence Theatre Group – 7137 Germantown Avenue (Mt. Airy), in Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call the box office at (215) 987-4450, or purchase them online.

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