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Derby’s Hansel and Gretel is no grim tale

Published: 24 November 2018

Mike Kenny’s adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel is the unusual choice for the Christmas 2018 production at Derby Theatre.

The theatre’s artistic director Sarah Brigham, who is at the helm of the show, explained why she chose it: “what’s great about it is it’s a normal boy and girl who beat the monster and succeed outside of parental involvement which I think is really novel, interesting and empowering for children.

“We wanted a little bit of drama, a little bit of suspense but it’s not so scary that you’ll run from the theatre screaming!”

A group of actor-musicians will be led by Craig Anderson and Yana Penrose who play the title characters.

Penrose has appeared at Derby Theatre before, playing Kathleen in Neil Duffield’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol in 2014.

Another recognisable face is Chris Price who plays the witch. He was in Cinderella in 2015 and was Cyclops in Mike Kenny’s version of Homer’s The Odyssey in 2014.

Esme Sears, who played Tinkerbell in Mike Penny’s adaptation of Peter Pan in 2017, returns to the theatre along with Jack Wharton, whose last Derby appearance was in Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of Dickens’s Great Expectations in 2017 and Liz Eaves who was in both Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland in 2016.

New to Derby audiences are Jack Alexander and Tilly-Mae Millbrook. Joining the adult cast will be 18 young actors: Ariana Botchway, George Thompson, Rosie Austins, Millie Denney, Jaiya Dhillon, Harry Tallis, Leo Fox-White, Lottie Stone, Madison Naylor, Scarlett Allitt, William Brown, Amelie Turner, Maisie Gore, Freddie Phillips, Thomas Moore, Roxy Wright, Primrose Cole and Freya Youngman.

Neil Irish is set designer, composer is Ivan Stott, Tim Haywood is costume designer and lighting designer is Emma Jones.

Hansel and Gretel runs from Friday 30 November until Saturday 5 January 2019.

Steve Orme