Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hansel and Gretel and Pirates of Penzance

This past March, I had the fun opportunity to play Hansel in NOISE theater's production of "Hansel and Gretel." NOISE stands for Northwest Opera in School's Etc. They condense an opera or opera scene into a 35-40 minute show and perform an English version of it for Elementary schools in the Seattle area. It's a great program that exposes kids to opera at a young age. I had Oscar come to a show and take some pictures. Jocelyn (Gretel) had her friend take pictures too, so I have a whole bunch. These top two are me posing before the show started. Hansel helps his father make brooms.
For our performance, we cut out the recitative and substituted a bit of dialogue. Hansel gets a big monologue at the beginning to explain the show and tell the kids a bit about opera.





 Then Hansel and Gretel distract themselves from their chores by singing a cute song about how hungry and restless they are.








Gretel decides to break the boredom by teaching Hansel how to dance.  
This is my favorite pic of all. Hansel says "I would dance but don't know how. When to jump or when to bow," while bowing when he says "jump" and jumping when he says "bow." Jocelyn's friend caught me in mid jump!


We start playing around and dancing in circles...












When Mother comes home and tells us off for playing when we should have been working. She orders us to go pick strawberries in the forest
She then laments her fate and her husband's inability to provide enough food for the family.
But fortunately Father comes home with good news that he's finally been paid for his woodcarving services and has brought home a bag full of food. Mother is especially excited about her "pound of tea!" Father gets worried when she tells him the children are out in the woods because he's heard stories about the "gobbling ogress" who lures children "with gingerbread sweets and eats them for dinner." They run out in search of Hansel and Gretel.

The scene changes to the forest revealing Gretel playing with her doll. I then come out to tell her "I don't know where we are," but also claim "I am a boy. I'm never lost."




Gretel thinks she hears creepy voices. I hop on a stump and yell "who's there?" only to be answered by more creepy echos. We then sing a gorgeous prayer duet before falling asleep. Gretel falls asleep in my lap while I look around to make sure everything is safe before I fall asleep too. One time I looked around too long and there was barely a second between my sleeping and Gretel waking up. Several of the kids yelled out "that wasn't long enough."

We wake up in the morning to the beautiful site of the marvelous gingerbread house and its delicious (cardboard) cookies.



The witch (whose been pretty bored sitting behind the flats all this time) comes out and lures us in with her magic wand. In the picture just above you see my bandanna on my face. The first time it happened it was a complete accident. But the kids laughed uproariously, so I started trying to do it intentionally for future shows. It didn't always work, but it always brought a laugh when it did.



She then captures us and sends me off hypnotized into my cage.

She turns Gretel into her servant while she fattens me up in my cage.






But, of course, we come up with a plan to trick her and push her into the oven where she turns into one of her own delicious gingerbread cookies.
We celebrate our victory and stuff ourselves full of candy before Mother and Father find us and rejoice to see we're still alive. In the full version, we've also freed all the other gingerbread children.
And the show ends happily with the whole family reunited and grateful to be together again. We take our bows and then open it up for questions and answers. You have to make sure to call on the older kids. If you call on one of the younger kids, they'll either blank and not say anything, say something they liked about the show but not ask a question, or say something completely irrelevant like "my dog got sick yesterday."


We took this cast pic below after our final performance. My parents, my brother and his family along with my sister and niece were all able to come to that show. It was awesome to have them there, as well as the kid who dressed up in lederhosen!

During that month, my cats decided to be super cute and all cuddle together on the bed. Fry (my tuxedo) has never been big on the bed. He's more of a couch sitter. So it was a nice surprise to see them all there together.


Guess who their favorite person to cuddle with is?

While I was performing as Hansel, I was also rehearsing for Edith in Pirates of Penzance with Ovation Theater on Bainbridge Island. It was a fun show, but I definitely don't miss that commute!
Our director wanted me to do a lot of twirling. Fortunately our photographer got a fantastic shot of me in mid twirl. We have a big song and dance number "Climbing over Rocky Mountain" and then talk about what we should do until father arrives.

Here's another shot I loved. This is all the girls squealing and jumping up and down excitedly after I've suggested we "take off our shoes, and stockings, and paddle." Scandalous!!!

Little did we know that we were being observed by Frederic, the pirate who is "out of his indentures and intends to lead a blameless life evermore." We're all crazy about him, but ultimately turn down his advances since he is a mere commoner and we are Major General's daughters.

Our sister Mabel comes out and scolds us for not taking pity on a poor man whose circumstances are out of his control, but we think she'd be less bothered by a "sense of duty" if he were not "a thing of beauty."
After Mabel and Frederic go off alone together, I gather the sisters around and ask what we should do - leave them alone or follow. We decide to compromise and "talk about the weather" while we follow them around and eavesdrop on their conversation.




The rest of the pirates surprise us and intend to carry us away to marry them, but our father, the very model of a modern Major General, shows up to save us. He pretends to be an orphan and begs the pirates to take pity on us. 

The pirates decide to let us go, and the first act ends as we rejoice in being let go but secretly flirt with the pirates.

The final act takes place in the middle of the night with all of the sisters in our nightgowns and nightcaps. Though it doesn't compare to my horrible nightgown in "My Fair Lady, "Oscar still forbids me never to buy a nightgown that looks like it. It might not have been terribly attractive, but it was very cozy.

And the Pirate King finishes off the show with his final bow. There's lots more to the story than I'm willing to recount here. If you want to know the rest, go see it. It's a really fun operetta, and it's Gilbert and Sullivan's most performed show.



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