Once upon a time there was a town where children began mysteriously disappearing ever since a new teacher arrived at the local school. She told them stories and gave them lollipops and they fell under her spell.
This is not a sugar and spice story, it’s quite frightening at times although often funny and when Scottish Ballet tell the tale we all fall under their spell.
Hansel & Gretel at the Grand Opera House is a delight and it was lovely to see so many boys and girls enjoying it, I met one young man who is already training in ballet school in England and for a future Olympics and he gave the show the thumbs up. The little girl beside me hardly moved a muscle and held tight onto her mummy when the witch was trying to put Hansel into the oven. I told you, this story has a sinister side to it, after all, it was written by the Grimm Brothers!
Having said that there’s a comic element running through, there were great cheers for the rag dolls who fell out of the toy cupboard, sighs when the Dew Drop Fairy appeared, a holding of breath when the beautiful woman flies in sitting on the crest of the moon and spontaneous clapping and whoops of delight when the wicked witch is pushed into the red hot oven and the spell is lifted and the children return to their parents.
The dancing is up to Scottish Ballet’s usual high standard and the dancers act out their parts as well as taking full advantage of the choreography. The orchestra play Engelbert Humperdinck’s familiar music and the vibrant set is outstanding but as the ginger bread house takes up most of the stage, although we don’t see it until the second act, a lot of the movement was towards the front of the stage in Act 1 so we missed the big sweep of space we’re used to in ballets. But that didn’t detract, when the forest parted to show the front door of the little house and then everything parted to reveal the inside and the fun started.
Congratulations to all involved especially the eight young boys and girls from local ballet schools who never put a foot wrong.
Hansel & Gretel
Grand Opera House Belfast
until Saturday 11th February 2017
More at www.goh.co.uk