Christmas fairy tale fun with Hansel and Gretel at The Spring Arts Centre, Havant

Hansel and Gretel by Lyngo Theatre is at The Spring Arts Centre in Havant, December 22-30, 2018. Picture by Alex Brenner
Hansel and Gretel by Lyngo Theatre is at The Spring Arts Centre in Havant, December 22-30, 2018. Picture by Alex Brenner

Is hunger stronger than love?

This is the question the Lyngo theatre troupe looks at it in their unique take in the classic fairytale, Hansel and Gretel.

A musical theatre version of this classic brother and sister tale of adventure and magic they aim to  have you humming along throughout and cheering as the witch slides down into the flaming oven.

With just two actors taking on the six parts, they serve up their own special recipe of multi-roled performances, captivating songs and beautiful imagery.

Francesca Anderson plays Gretel, the mother and one of the witches, while her colleague Adam Jessop is Hansel, the father and the other witch.

‘There’s a lot of very quick changing and clever ducking in and out of tiny houses and ovens and things,’ laughs Francesca.

It’s her third Christmas performing in the show.

‘I love the pace and the storytelling element of this show. Don’t get me wrong, I love a big panto as well, but this is kind of magical, slightly more gentle, and it’s great for young children who don’t perhaps do so well in big noisy spaces, like most big pantos are.

‘It takes you on a beautiful journey with the two central characters, and their highs and lows and the perils and the fun. And it’s such a lovely show in terms of how much fun Adam and I have as the actors because we can have so much fun playing the naivety of Hansel and Gretel, right up to the crazy cruelty of the witches, who are hilarious fun to play, at the end.

‘It’s a real challenge for me as a performer, but it’s so lovely to see the audience go on that journey and the children to be so quiet when there’s those moments of peril and then when the witches come out, and there’s a lot of fun, and it’s very visual, like all Lyngo shows are.’

The show is billed is being suitable for ages four and over, but it has something for all the family to enjoy.

‘It really can involve audiences of all ages and abilities. And because it’s not as loud and brash as some pantomimes the younger children can really get involved.

‘Even if they’re not perhaps getting the plot as much as the older ones, they can engage with the music and the visuals are fantastic. By the end of the show, the stage is littered with all sorts of things like glitter and leaves, so obviously the technical crews at each theatre love us because it involves a big clear up after each performance.

‘We get a lot of families where they might have a little one and then another kid who’s maybe eight or nine, and then it has to appeal to the adults too so there’s some jokes for the older people as well, there’s a few little asides –  there’s something for everyone.’

Do the little ones ever find it too scary?

‘No,’ she says. ‘The characters can be horrible. And there’s mild peril with the witches and the idea of putting the children in the oven, but because they’re played with humour - we play up the peril because you have to - we don’t make it so we’re terrifying at all.

‘I don’t want to say we’re too comical, as we do have to be a bit sinister, but they’re amusing too and they’re quite physical, so they’re fun to watch.’

While this is Francesca’s third stint in the show, it’s her first time playing opposite Adam, and she’s enjoying the challenges that brings.

‘It adds a nice element to it, as everyone brings something new to the part. The script is the same but everyone plays it a little differently and tackles the characters slightly differently, so my characters play slightly differently in response to theirs.

‘It’s good fun for me because I get to play those characters in a new way and work on those nuances again – it’s almost like not doing the same production.’

HANSEL & GRETEL

The Spring Arts Centre, Havant

December 22-30

thespring.co.uk