Weekend Highlights

Published March 19, 2013
Going Places

A Parent’s Review: PNB’s Hansel & Gretel

by Lynn Schnaiberg
seattle child article photo
Former principal dancer Ariana Lallone makes a guest appearance as the witch in Pacific Northwest Ballet's Hansel & Gretel.
Original Image © Angela Sterling.

seattle child article photo
Pacific Northwest Ballet School students in Bruce Wells' Hansel & Gretel.
Photo © Angela Sterling.

If you’ve ever wanted to take your little ones to the ballet, but were worried about whether they’d make it through, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Hansel & Gretel is the perfect introduction.

The hour-long matinee specially created for children and families features nearly 60 dancers from PNB’s ballet school and former PNB principal dancer Ariana Lallone. The show is narrated by Seattle actor Allen Galli, costumed in Merlin-like garb. (To be clear, the narration isn’t constant; there are long stretches of dancing between storytelling in parts of the show. It’s still a ballet, not a play.)

Helpfully, the program includes the story of Hansel and Gretel so you can relay to your kids the tale of the two children who drop breadcrumbs to find their way out of the forest only to have birds gobble them up. They are left to wander upon a candy-covered gingerbread house – the abode of a seemingly kind woman, who’s really an evil witch. Though the classic story includes a witch who wants to eat children (eek!) and an evil stepmother who wants to abandon the children in the forest to starve (double eek!), nothing seemed scary in the show; we saw no freaked-out kids.

While you don’t get the fun of a live orchestra in this performance, all of the other components of a “regular” PNB show are here: a storybook set (this one of shifting cartoon-like trees), lovely costumes and quality dancing. My 7-year-old’s eyes went wide when the trees parted to reveal the wicked witch’s gingerbread house. He also liked the fake prop cakes, to fatten up Hansel. My 10-year-old daughter especially liked the leaping cats, decked out in black bowler hats and full of feline attitude.

Extend the fun by coming for the pre-performance crafts and dance class, which begins one hour before show time. Kids can cut out construction paper gingerbread man shapes and decorate them with all manner of sparkly jewels and googly eyes, or make a witch’s hat. (Warning: the craft table gets pretty crowded.)

At the dance class, held in the carpeted hall between the coat check and the gift shop, a flock of (mostly) little girls channeled their inner ballerinas. The teacher directed dancers to drop breadcrumbs, tiptoe-walk like moonbeams entering the forest and let their arms make shapes protecting Hansel and Gretel in the forest. My 10-year-old daughter takes dance lessons, but she was having no part of it (nor, for that matter, was my 7-year-old son).

There is no intermission with this short show. If you’d like to get your budding ballerina a treat, the $4 double chocolate brownies looked mighty good.

There’s only one more show left in the run, so get your tickets soon.

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If You Go...

Where: McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle.

When: Saturday, March 23, at 3:30 p.m.

Admission: $22 to $67.

Contact: PNB Box Office, 206-441-2424; www.pnb.org.