Hansel and Gretel

Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

03/07/2012 - 14/07/2012

Production Details

Script by Ben Haddock and Rebecca Parker
Directed by Rodney Bane
Choreography by Lindsey Rusling

Presented by Kapitall Kids' Theatre

Hansel and Gretel are lured into the forest by the promise of a big reward for the capture of the local witch, Honey Toothrot. But Witch Toothrot knows they’re coming and has sent her familiars out into the forest to catch them and make them her slaves.

Hansel and Gretel are walking into a trap, and they’ll need all the help the kids can give them, in order to catch the witch and get out safely! With lots of music and familiar tunes to sing along with, Kapitall Kids Theatre brings you a fun-filled Hansel and Gretel this July school holidays!

Hansel & Gretel
Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee St, Wellington 
3-14 July
Weekdays 11am & 1pm : Sat 11am
email: kkt@paradise.net.nz
phone (04) 934 4068
Tickets $10 .00 / Groups 10+ $9.00  

Hansel - Cameron Langdon
Gretel - Angela Fitzharris
Honey Toothrot - Sarah Andrews Reynolds
Toad - Moana Ete
Cat - Anna Sewel

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,


Uncomplicated story brought to life

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 05th Jul 2012

Another traditional tale innovatively adapted is Kapitall Kids Theatre’s production of Hansel and Gretel by Ben Haddock and Rebecca Parker.  

Much of the story has been pared back with lots of cleverly adapted songs included to make the story simply but effectively told. Hansel (Cameron Lagdon) and Gretel (Angela Fitzharris) go in search of Witch Toothrot (Sarah Andrews Reynolds). If they destroy her they can receive the reward money to buy each other birthday presents.

When they reach the Witch’s house, they find her servants Toad (Moe Ete) and Cat (Anna Sewell) also wanting to get rid of her.  They band together and with lots of creative help from the younger members of the audience they do indeed end the Witch’s life. 

Director Rodney Bane does well to bring the uncomplicated story to life and although the pace does drop away through the middle stages of the show it starts and finishes with lots of energy, the cast excelling in interacting with the audience. 

Sarah Andrews Reynolds in particular gives lively renditions of Whitney Houston classics and Lindsey Rusling’s choreography adds much to the liveliness of the show.


Make a comment

Missed opportunities in diluted drama

Review by John Smythe 03rd Jul 2012

A packed house enjoys yet another opportunity to see a classic folk story dramatised: a genre Wellington specialises in, what with Kapitall Kids’, The Improvisors’ and KidzStuff’s routine holiday shows, and Circa’s annual pantomime all going for the ready-recognition factor every time.*

A game of hide and seek brings Gretel then Hansel into the space and leads to introductions. They mention more than once that they are twins “but not the kind that look alike” (um, boy-girl twins can never be mono-zygotic) yet offer no explanation for Hansel having an English accent while Gretel is clearly Kiwi.

There is a running gag about Gretel deciding it’s time for a song. The first – ‘We are family’ – becomes tediously repetitive, not least because they keep repeating “Get up everybody and sing” yet make no effort at all to get the kids to join in, either vocally or physically, which just leaves everyone feeling awkward.

There is no doubt the audience is keen to participate, as evidenced by their contributing big scary noises without having to be asked a second time, prompting to some comic scared acting (see pic). Director Rodney Bane has a knack for creating such business.

But an exhortation for the kids to sing along with “When we go into the woods today / The witch will be surprised” comes to nothing because, although they know the tune, no effort is made to teach them the different words.

Later there are keen volunteers for the task of wielding the witch-catching net – crucial to the outcome of the play – but it’s pretty well impossible for small children to throw a large loose net, without battens at the ends, over adult-sized actors, so that too is a bit of a fudged-over fizzer.

Otherwise the story – as scripted by Ben Haddock and Rebecca Parker – plays out quite well, on the premise that it’s the twins’ birthday, neither have bought a present for the other and the reward posted for catching the witch will give them the wherewithal to do so. Little is made of their reaching that goal, hoever; just a bit of exposition about their giving the money away for a purpose that is neither here nor there as far as this story is concerned.  

Cameron Lagdon and Angela Fitzharris bring a friendly relaxation to the titular heroes, through which they connect well with the audience. The moral lessons are lightly delivered. Given the witch’s house is clad in food packaging and wrappers, it is a nice touch that Gretel leaves similar rubbish to mark their trail back home, promising to pick it all up in the process, of course.  

The witch’s familiars – Toad (a cool Moe Ete, who has an appropriately streetwise Kiwi accent) and Cat (Anna Sewell, who has an American accent) – also connect well with the audience. While I feel more could be made of Toad picking up all the rubbish (something gets mumbled about it; has she been sentenced to community service, perhaps?), I like the way her bullying tendencies are handled and resolved.

Sarah Andrews Reynolds revels in being Witch Toothrot, first experienced in silhouette as she establishes her need to capture slaves to clean her house, given that Toad and Cat do not have “thumbs opposed”. Her ‘Cleaner!’ song, to the tune of ‘Fever!’ is a high point and her entrance singing a parodied Witney Houston song (‘It’s Not Right But It’s OK’, I think) leads to some good ensemble singing and choreography (Lyndsey Rustling), at last.

In terms of actual drama of the scary kind … well there is none, and therefore no thrilling climax and catharsis. It seems the fashion nowadays is to dilute all that, which rather misses the point of retelling these age-old tales. Thus Witch Toothrot is relegated to skulking about in the background, which is dramatically disappointing.

The final song, ‘We Like to Party’, cries out for the kids to get up join in the singing and dancing – allowing everyone to participate – but it is not properly invited and because the earlier opportunities have not been well handled, what could have ended with a celebratory atmosphere engenders polite applause from a seated audience instead, once they realise the show is actually over. A shame.  

– – – – – – – – – – – –
*As I wrote in my review of KidzStuff’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears: I do wish, however, that someone in Wellington would embrace the well known stories of NZ’s world-class writers for children – Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley, et al. Tim Bray in Auckland and the Court in Christchurch have done this – Bray and Carl Nixon have adapted a number of our much-loved and popular stories – and it seems a shame that Wellington children should miss out.  


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council