Theatre Review: Hansel And Gretel proves a really tasty treat for family audiences at Derby Theatre

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There are few certainties in life but one of the more pleasant ones is that Derby Theatre will put on a superb family show each Christmas - and Hansel And Gretel certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Derby Theatre is currently on one the hottest of hot streaks when it comes to family Christmas shows. Hansel and Gretel follows in the footsteps of past hits Peter Pan, Alice In Wonderland, Cinderella etc and may well even surpass them thanks to its winning blend of fine source material, an excellent, inventive adaptation by Mike Kenny, surefooted direction from Sarah Brigham and memorable music from Ivan Stott.

You all know the story of the two siblings who get lost in the forest and come across a witch’s house made of tasty sweets and cakes. The plot here touches on all the main points of the original, but with plenty of added extras. This is a production that looks great, sounds great and will leave you with a big smile on your face.

As ever, a talented cast of eight actors - augmented BY five different youngsters each night - impress with their versatility by picking up a wide variety of musical instruments to perform Stott’s songs, a fantastic collection of around ten compositions that prove naggingly catchy and underscore the action of the play perfectly.

Particularly enjoyable among the songs was Lost, which introduces some extra - and very familiar - fairytale characters into the proceedings, to fantastic effect.

Among the cast, I was particularly impressed by Yana Penrose as a sparky Gretel, Christopher Price, who stole every scene he was in as Ginger The Witch, not to mention the sheer versatility of Tilly-Mae Tilbrook, displaying excellent acting skills, a fine singing voice and the ability to play the widest range of instruments.

Responses from my two youngsters on the way home ranged from ‘awesome’ and ‘funny’ to ‘cool’ and ‘excellent’, so you can’t say fairer than that.

All in all, this is the perfect blend of all thE different elements that are needed to make a five-star Christmas production.

I cannot recommmend it highly enough and I really can’t wait to see what they come up with next Christmas.

n Hansel and Gretel can be seen in the main house at Derby Theatre until January 5.

You may also like to check out Goldilocks And The Three Bears, which can you see in the venue’s Studio Theatre, also running until January 5.

Call the box office for details of both shows on 01332 593939 or go to www.derbytheatre.co.uk

Photos by Robert Day