Brace yourself. I am going to use a terribly bad word for Clevelanders. Are you ready? It is a word that strikes fear into most residents of North-east Ohio. No, the word is not snow. The word is…Opera! Wait…don’t click off just yet. Let me explain. Opera does not have to be a bad word, especially when performed by the likes of Baldwin Wallace University Opera and Baldwin Wallace University Department of Theatre and Dance.
Tonight (Thursday) was the premier of a four show run of Englebert Humperdinck’s classic fairytale opera “Hansel and Gretel”. While we may not be talking the New York Metropolitan Opera here, even non-fans and neophytes to the genre will find this extremely pleasing to the ears and eyes, especially children that you wish to expose to the fine arts at bargain ticket prices.
For one thing, it is sung in English so you can actually tell what the heck is going on. Secondly, there is only one death in the entire show (spoiler alert: it’s the witch and she had it coming). The principle singers are quite good at what they do and the costuming and set design is lavish for the most part. There is also the 34 piece orchestra that is up to the task for the most part.
“Hansel & Gretel” is the timeless fairytale by the brothers Grimm but with some subtle changes. In this version there are no bread crumbs, no mean mother or step mother kicking the kids out of the house and in the end all the gingerbread children are returned happy and healthy for a pleasing family friendly ending.
Shortfalls: Although a good performance, there were some issues. For one, it seems that no one was miked in the production and with a theater as large as the John Patrick sound seems to get lost. The Orchestra was at times just a bit off tempo and key. Lastly, the gingerbread house that descends from the sky is ridiculously small but when dismantled is turned into a cage for Hansel so I cannot take too many points off for that. Lastly, there seem to be a problem with gender for the various parts. Hansel was sung by a girl, the witch was a guy, the Sandman was a girl but I may be getting too picky here. Overall, each did a great job with their roles.
Prude Alert: This is a family friendly event that young children will delight in seeing (although it does clock in at just a schooch over two hours). No profanity and a good moral message is presented without being hammered home.
Shooting From The Lip: (My Last Words): Baldwin Wallace University Opera’s production of “Hansel & Gretel” is a non-threatening introduction to opera and a great way to introduce young people to the magic. You may have to fight off some students for tickets since this show will sell out easily by word of mouth. Come see what you have been missing.
This is opera that the entire family will love with familiar characters and a magical fairytale setting. What makes it even better is that for student’s age 8-18 the show is free! This is a great way to introduce the beauty of opera to the entire family while supporting the hard working students and faculty that make this production come to life.
The show is directed by Benjamin Wayne Smith with Dean Williamson as the guest conductor. The show will run from Friday, February 21 to Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday Matinee at 2:00 p.m.
“Hansel and Gretel” will be shown at the Kleist Center for Art & Drama that is located at 95 East Bagley Road, Berea, Ohio. Come early and meet the Dew Fairy who will be conducting a free family backstage tour one hour prior to curtain time. On Sunday the tour will begin at 1:00 p.m.
Tickets for adults are $15, seniors and students age 19 and up are $10. Stop by or call the Kleist Box Office, (440) 826-2240. Find more information here: http://www.bw.edu/news/hansel_gretel/