BWW Review: HANSEL AND GRETEL at California Lutheran University's Creative Arts Division

BWW Review: HANSEL AND GRETEL at California Lutheran University's Creative Arts Division

"Hansel and Gretel" the opera is a playful romp through the forest.

Composed by Englebert Humperdinck in 1892 after his sister asked him to write music for songs based on the Grimm brothers' fairy tale that she had written for her children. This imaginative retelling of the story is a feast for the eye and ear where witches aren't always what they seem and nightmares are only a forest away.

The opera, presented by California Lutheran University Creative Arts Division, follows the two infamous scamps, Hansel (performed by the vocally strong Anika Valdez) and Gretel (performed by the lilting-voiced Brooke St. Johns) as they mischievously defy their parents and go out on an adventure that lands them in a huge amount of trouble. It is the old tried and true morals of 'don't trust strangers' and 'do what your parents say' that are prominent themes within the story.

But unlike the fairytale, the opera has the bounteous opportunity to flush out the two leading characters, as well as giving opportunities to see more of the relationship and personalities of the parents (performed by the jovial Jordan Erickson and the formidable Julia Garcia, who also sings the role of The Witch).

Another wonderfully unique opportunity, presents itself in the introduction of truly enjoyable additional characters. The Sandman (perform by the velvet-toned Izzy Stewart) and The Dew Fairy (gleefully performed by the animated and vocally fervent Anna DeMaria). These two mystical characters add much light and brightness to this very dark story.

With this production director Heidi Vass has the opportunity to bring in her younger students (from La Reina Middle School) as the Children's Chorus. Vass also received a grant to bring her production to schools as an outreach program.

Bravi to CLU professors and staff for a feast for the eyes in the ghoulishly animated set (Andrea Heilman), the unique costumes, makeup and wigs (Noelle Raffy), the costumes for the Children's Chorus (Cindy Peltola), the brooding lights (Alex Choate), the multitude of worldly and other-worldly props (Teresa Scarano), and Technical Director (Josh Clabaugh).

The bow on this most adventurous and uniquely retelling opera package is the live orchestra led by Music Director and Conductor, Jessica Helms.

As many of the roles are double cast, the other performers are as follows: Gretel (Rachel Counhan), Hansel (Maddy Barnes), Mother/Witch (Katie Shearer).

The production continues through April 22. Admission is $10. For tickets, visit For more information, call 805-493-3452

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From This Author Jeffrey Scott

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