A fable comes to life in musical performance

  • Hansel and Gretal's parents speak to Lydia in their cottage in the Junior Service League production of "Hansel and Gretal." Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Hansel and Gretal are lost in the woods in the Junior Service League production of "Hansel and Gretal." Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • Hansel and Gretel get caught eating the house of the Gingerbread Witch in the Junior Service League production of “Hansel and Gretel.” Sarah Pearson / Monitor staff

  • The Owl and Dew Princess beseech the Sandman to look over Hansel and Gretel as they sleep in the Junior Service League production of “Hansel and Gretel.” Sarah Pearson / Monitor staff

  • The Gingerbread Witch is joined by her gingerbread minions as she plots what to do with the children in the Junior Service League production of "Hansel and Gretal." Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/13/2019 5:59:06 PM

The Junior Service League of Concord has done a lot of different shows in the more than 80 years since they began by putting on puppet shows for elementary school children. But this year’s performance is a new one: their first musical.

Current and past members of the volunteer organization will perform Hansel and Gretal, though a slightly revised tale of the fable.

“I love how the cast has just embraced it,” said Deb Knowlton, chairwoman of the JSL play committee who also will perform as a Troll, Echo and a gingerbread minion.

None of the actresses are professionals, but they drove right into the singing and dancing.

In this telling – like the original – Hansel (Jess Pollack), Gretal (Molly McKean) and their parents (Sasha Demel and Diane Raimo) are poor and hungry. However, the children aren’t sent in the woods to be abandoned, just to gather berries for dinner.

They also aren’t the only children who get lost in the woods. There are also Fredrik and Johanna (Kris Bouley and Megan Ferns) and Casper and Katrina (Pam Murray and Laura Serard).

The Gingerbread Witch (Carol Ford Clark) who lives in the deep dark woods isn’t there alone. In this musical, she’s got goblin minions, Frick and Frack (Rebecca Butt and April Lakevicius), who she has coerced into doing her bidding.

There’s also a bunch of other forest inhabitants: Lydia, the gypsy storyteller, played by Hilary Murray; the Dew Princess, played by Laura Sagris; Owl, played by Heidi Petzold; and the Sandman, played by Bouley.

Karen Braz directs the performance, a role she’s had for more than 20 years.

Those bringing the fairytale magic behind the scenes include Becky Bliss and Stacey Price on sets, Wendy Houston on props, Autumn Bedell as stage manager, and Bill Potter on lights and sound.

The group has been rehearsing twice a week since January. And nearly every night this week.

“It’s a labor of love,” Knowlton said.

The Junior Service League will perform three shows Thursday and Friday for school children and shows open to the public Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. at St. Paul’s School’s Memorial Hall auditorium.

Tickets are $7 each, with a $1 discount if you bring a non-perishable food item.

The play is primarily for children to have access to theater. However, proceeds also act as donations to go to the JSL’s mission of supporting women and children in crisis and the food items will go to Friends of Forgotten Children.

“It’s for the children,” Knowlton said. “It’s good fun.”




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