HANSEL & GRETEL BLUEGRASS
The Downey Theater
Opens: December 4, 2016
Closes: May 21, 2017
A new version of the classic story set in depression-era Kentucky narrated by Bradley Whitford (in a special video performance) and featuring the rollicking bluegrass sounds of The Get Down Boys. Multiple award-winning 24th Street Theatre (Walking the Tightrope, Man Covets Bird) specializes in sophisticated theater with emotional depth that appeals to kids as well as adults — appropriate for ages 8+.“CRITIC’S CHOICE… gives an old tale new relevance… masterful staging… fine performances… a stunning visual tableau” — Los Angeles Times. Sundays at 3 p.m. through May 21; 24th Street Theatre, 1117 West 24th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007; $10-$24; 213-745-6516 or go to www.24thstreet.org
"The story is very simple, the acting very straightforward, the pitch impossible not to hit. It’s a pleasant spectacle, and the action – for the most part – is accessibly theatrical."
"Masterful staging by 24th Street co-founder Debbie Devine situates the fine performances within a stunning visual tableau. Video by Matthew Hill incorporates Whitford’s narration, an evocative bluegrass score performed by the Get Down Boys, and animated sequences, while Keith Mitchell’s tunnel of concentric translucent Tyvek arches serves as the screen for projected forest, caves and creepy witch’s lair."
"Indeed the whole play creates the feel of a dream that might just come true, or perhaps arise from a memory of strange events. Like a child, I felt drawn into a world both real and mythic. One of my favorite experiences and nearly always only found in live theatre."
"Hansel and Gretel Bluegrass hones in on the difficulties siblings have in their relationships with one another but even more, the co-dependencies, the frailties, the strengths and the resiliency to overcome those difficulties and in this case, extreme circumstance within which the unlikely orphans find themselves. The story is profound and sincere."
"The 24th Street Theatre specializes in TYA, Theatre for Young Adults which is distinctly different from children’s theatre. They don’t dumb it down or pander to the youngsters; they expect them to be able to accept a more grown up approach to the stories they tell. The adults in the audience will also appreciate the literate and solid story telling...The story unfolds as a cautionary tale told on the radio...(Director Debbie) Devine keeps the action moving in this tight 60-minute piece and her actors deliver solid and empathetic performances."
"The performances are resolutely good. Zinsser perfectly channels the creepy deportment of the folklorist’s conjurer, while Foote and Giarratana project a subtly effective yin and yang polarity. Director Debbie Devine has masterfully worked the production elements here to evoke an ambiance that is fairy-tale mysterious and alluring."
"The most fascinating aspect of this production is the innovative fusion of stage and screen. Video projections (Matthew G. Hill) are used to transition from scene to scene and set to set, smoothly and quickly. They transform the beautifully minimalistic set (Keith Mitchell), with the help of colorful lighting (Dan Weingarten), into various sets, including a graveyard, a forest, and the Mountain Woman's home. Interactions between the actors and the screen allow the actors to enter into the projected world around them. However, the projections, while creative, are sometimes obstructive, casting shadows over the actors' faces."
"It's a clever idea undercut by a bland script that doesn't build the tensions into scarier ones. Director Debbie Devine, the co-artistic director with producer Jay McAdams, has done a service for her cast with imaginative use of the witch's spells and the lad's devotion to his sister's health, although Gretel comes off far too often as a head-strong ninny, forcing him to become a bullying oaf. But, both actors show skill at maneuvering the treacherous script and creating credible characters."
".....while the performers are spot-on — Foote and Giarratana especially interact with rhythmic grace —it is the tapestry of light (Dan Weingarten), sound (Christopher (Moscatiello), set (Keith Mitchell), music (the Get Down Boys) and splendid videography (Matthew G. Hill) — the latter a vital visual element of the narrative’s progression — that make the piece so memorable."
"24th Street Theatre takes on The Brothers Grimm in its latest world premiere HANSEL & GRETEL BLUEGRASS by Bryan Davidson, but forget the fairy tale you think you know. This is no sanitized version of the story...Director Debbie Devine and Davidson have created a grim, haunting, and incredibly touching tale that speaks to our most basic instincts - fear, love, and the determination to survive."