Theater department puts an operatic twist on Grimm classic

Ivy Calvert, senior in applied music, wowed audiences with her vocally powerful portrayal of Gretel in K-State Theatre's spring 2015 opera production of the famous fairy tale (Nicholas Cady | The Collegian)

Over the weekend, K-State’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance performed “Hansel and Gretel the Opera.”

“Hansel and Gretel” is the classic tale based on the Grimm Brothers fairytale. In the story, Hansel and Gretel disobey their parents by ignoring their daily chores and playing all day. When their mother returns, she sends them into the woods, warning them not to return until they have filled their basket with strawberries. The children get lost. Scared and alone, they wander the woods until they come across a beautiful house decorated with candies and gingerbread and meet the woman who lives there.

“I thought it was very interesting to hear the different voices of opera from each of the performers,” Taylor Knoth, sophomore in life sciences, said.

The opera was broken into three acts. Act one and two are combined and work as the exposition to the show. Hansel was played by Erin Koolman, graduate student in music, and Gretel was played by Ivy Calvert, senior in applied music. The ballet which ended the first half of the show acted as a graceful piece put on by fairies while the children slept.

“I liked the singing, it was very good,” Zaira Ruiz, junior in humanities, said. “I also thought that the twist on the classical tale was very cool.”

The third act of the show is when the witch, played by Madison Moore, junior in applied music, is introduced. The witch in particular was a very animated character, especially through the designs of her costume and candy-covered gingerbread house.

“I really enjoyed how whimsical it was,” Chase Rossman, junior in theater, said. “The world looked like a pop up book, but still managed to retain a bit of creepiness with the witch and gingerbread kids.”

The set and the actors worked to encompass the tale the Grimm Brothers told. This animated and operatic performance incorporated the playfulness of the young children while telling their story in a unique and musical way.

“‘Hansel and Gretel’ had a very talented cast and an outstanding orchestra,” Melissa Heurter, freshman in pre-journalism, said.

The show ended with the final number that Hansel and Gretel sang and included a chorus of gingerbread children. The staged children went from being painted as set pieces to real people after eliminating of the witching and breaking the spell with the magic wand.

“To think that most of the people who brought this show together are college students is incredible, and goes to show the quality of instruction by the professors and the level of skill the students in the performing arts department at K-State,” Mary Higgins, sophomore in music education, said.

The overall production strived to incorporate each aspect of what the School of Music, Theatre and Dance has to offer.

“The show itself was extremely well written and hilarious, but I was more blown away by the amount of talent all the singers, instrumentalist, costume designers, set designers and everyone else brought to the production,” Higgins said.