Friday, October 23, 2009

Hansel & Gretel's Woods Take Over the New Victory Theater

My thanks to 'Anonymous' for pointing me in the direction of this production. Here's their comment in response to Monday's post that set this post in motion:
I'm in NY and there's a great show at The New Victory Theater in Times Square of Hansel and Gretel: LINK
They basically re-did the whole theater from top to bottom as the haunted forest of H&G!
'Anonymous' wasn't kidding - throughout this post you can see some pictures from the Scottish Catherine Wheels Theater Co., production.Here's an excerpt from the article:
Mounted throughout the theater, which is transformed into a cluttered, old haunted house with swirling nets, mad drawings and a variety of art installations made of dolls, the production begins downstairs, where a cellist plays tunes by the Bay City Rollers inside the 1970s-style house of Hansel and Gretel. As soon as the two (played by the apple-cheeked actors Tommy Joe Mullins and Ashley Smith) start dropping bread crumbs, the audience is led upstairs through a hallway backstage and around a maze assembled inside the theater.
It goes on to describe how the audience are, at one point, seated along a large dinner table, as if guests at the over-the-top feast (see below).And here's a description from Theater Mania :

The Grimm brothers' fairytale will literally unfold from the top to the bottom of the theater, and theatergoers, in groups of a 100, will follow the action from, according to press notes, a "kitschy 1970s inspired home through a spooky forest and into the dangerous clutches of a bald-headed witch who is at once nasty, funny, and completely off-her-rocker."

The show is aimed to be child-friendly so, despite the subject matter, the show is designed to be enjoyed by most ages (I would caution against very young children attending). The British Theater Guide HERE gives a good write-up of the show and addresses its suitability for children. I'd see it based on this report alone, if I could.Here's a trailer which gives a good idea of how the whole show is staged:

I love the whole 'leading the audience through the woods and making them a part of the scenes' approach. This is exactly the sort of thing I loved doing in theater when I had a chance - the show was different every time because it partly depended on the audience's involvement and partly because the close proximity with the audience provided opportunities for improvisation that the traditional audience-on-the-floor-actors-on-the-stage simply couldn't. Possibly the best result from staging a production like this, though, is that anyone who comes to the production will remember it forever. And this is why it's so important to do a REALLY good job!

The article - link HERE (the same as the link above) - is a very good review, hi-lighting both the good and the bad of such an adventurous show. Overall, the show is a recommended experience - it's currently sold out and has a wait list - and I sincerely wish I could go.From the copy: “Hansel and Gretel” runs through Nov. 1 at the New Victory Theater, 229 West 42nd Street, Manhattan; (646)223-3010,

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