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New West Theatre re-examines Hansel and Gretel

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 New West Theatre explores a world of imagination in their original twist on Hansel and Gretel, Dec. 26-Jan 6 at Casa. Camille Pavlenko rehearses for New West Theatre’s presentation of Hansel and Gretel at Casa, Dec. 26-Jan. 6. Photo By Richard Amery

“My story is based on a babysitter who is looking after a two little kids aged five and seven — a brother and sister. To keep them occupied, she gets them to act out the story of Hansel and Gretel, who are also a brother and sister,”  explained director Sharon Peat, who wrote her own version of the classic children’s tale for New West’s Theatre for this year‘s young people presentation.

It is an entertaining and energetic twist on a beloved children’s tale with plenty of energy and laughter and crows in the 50  minute show.

“They get separated in the forest. In the  original story, they use breadcrumbs to find their way home, but they use goldfish crackers in this story, except  the crows eat the goldfish crackers and they get separated and they encounter  adventures. It’s the quintessential children’s story,” Peat enthused.

Fans of New West Theatre’s December children’s shows will recognize a few familiar faces who  return to bring director/ writer Sharon Peat’s vision to life.

Kelly Malcolm, Ryan Reese and Camille Pavlenko have performed together in numerous shows for over the past half dozen years. They play numerous different characters.

“I get to play a variety of different characters including the babysitter, the witch, a crow and a big tree,” said Malcolm who always looks forward to returning to Lethbridge for the New West show.
“It’s always a blast to be part of New West shows. I get to come back and perform with these guys,” she said.

“ We have this wonderful camaraderie when people come to see us. It’s a different experience and it’s so much fun,” Malcolm continued.


Ryan Reese is excited to be involved in the play as Hansel and a variety of other characters because it is an exercise in imagination.

“My favourite part of the show is it deals in make believe. Make believe is getting to be a lost art. These days you barely ever see a kid without an iPad. When I was a a kid I could only sit at home and watch movies for so long before my mom would kick me outside to play and I was forced to re-enact my favourite movies,” Reese reminisced.

 Camille Pavlenko most enjoyed the collaborative process of putting the show together.
“Sharon has been great about letting us create our characters. She let us throw a whole lot of weird ideas at her and some of them Camille Pavlenko and Kelly Malcolm play crows in New west Theatre’s presentation of Hansel and Gretel at Casa, Dec. 26-Jan. 6. Photo by Richard Amerywere really weird, but she used some of them into the show,” Pavlenko said.

In addition to being a lot of fun, Peat noted the play has an important message.

“Hansel and Gretel look out for each other. They have to work together and when they get lost in the forest, they have to look after each other. So it is a really nice message about siblings looking after each other,” Peat said.

 As always audience interaction is an important part ofthe show.
“They will run into some creatures and they will be asked to help hansel and Gretel, so we’ll teach them to defend themselves,” Peat said.
“It’s very physical and a lot of fun,” she said.
“And we’re doing matinees at 1 p.m. each day, so we hope people will come out of their houses and come see the show,” she said. There is a 3:30 p.m. matinee on Jan. 5.

 A version of this story appears in the Dec. 27, 2017 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times/Shopper
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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