Point Loma Opera Theatre’s (also known as PLOT) rendition of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel was magical. The entire production came across with a dream-like quality often found in children’s story books. The acting combined with the music and lighting gave the overall production a fairytale-like feel. The Opera was in sung in the German language, but luckily the story of Hansel and Gretel is so familiar that the audience easily followed it. Megan DeBoard, director of the show, remarked “It’s fun! It’s joyful! I think that already gets the audience excited because they know the story of Hansel and Gretel… it’s going to be in German and that’s already scary enough but they already know the story so I think that is something that brings in an audience and I think the joy that the performers bring adds to this wonderful childhood story. It’s fun for us when it’s fun for them.”
The production had a live orchestra made up of about ten Point Loma students which added to the aesthetics of the production, giving it a more professional feel. The lighting also added to the tone of the piece, cleverly turning the stage red and foreshadowing bad things to come or turning a happy yellow when the scene was carefree. The singing and quality of voice was phenomenal. Reno Wilson, a PLNU alum and former member of PLOT commented, “I thought it was positively adorable with all the good character portrayals from the singers themselves and good vocal production as well. I was positively enamored with the father and mother and hansel and gretel. The chorus themselves were really good as well.”
The costumes were simple and minimal but appropriate, especially considering this was a student run production. My only critique would be of the supertitles (the translation which was shown above the actors on stage). Not only were they occasionally slightly off-time, but they were also not translated very well. I may not be fluent in German but I know enough to know that there were a few phrases missing or poorly translated. Still, it did not damage the rest of the production.
The performances from the cast were the best part of the show. DeBoard stated, ““I was really pleased, especially with the performers. They have grown so much from when we started rehearsing in August… They are brilliant, they are excellent actors which you don’t always get from Opera singers.” A few highlights from the cast were Molly Smith and Mckenna Slack who played Hansel and Gretel. The duo had a carefree chemistry on stage and easily gave off the impression that they were loving siblings. Smith, though a girl, even mastered some boyish mannerisms really focusing in on her character. The mother and father played by Michelle Law and Ted Pickell were also believable in their roles and had great chemistry, which is probably a good thing since the two of them are actually getting married in real life later this year. Lastly, I was impressed by the performances of the witches. Emma Ginzel, Margaret Pettit and Veronica Slavik really gave like to their characters as they sinisterly moved around the stage. In fact, Wilson said, “My favorite part was when the witches were taking control of everything that was really funny and kind of creepy.”
The entire performance ended up being amazing but it took a lot of work, and a few changes, to make it happen. DeBoard commented, “Originally we were supposed to do another [Opera] and then in August we changed it because we didn’t have the cast and so they had been learning another Opera all summer for like three months and we changed it on them very quickly… there was worry that we wouldn’t be able to get it up in time and it has far surpassed what I was expecting.” Slack agreed and stated, ““It was stressful since we did initially have another show that we were doing and I learned my role over the summer and I was ready to come in this fall singing a completely different character and a completely different opera… So I had to memorize a whole new [Opera] in just about two months… I thought it was it went amazing because a lot of stuff came together last minute and a little haphazardly but I thought it came together great and I thought it was amazing how it all happened in time.”
Hansel and Gretel was a production you definitely didn’t want to miss and was a perfect start to the week of Homecoming.