Hansel and Gretel

Norwich Playhouse

> Norwich Playhouse

Engelbert Humperdinck's fairytale opera brought us all the familiar ingredients of the old tale: the poor broom-makers and their children Hansel and Gretel, the child-eating witch and, of course, the famous gingerbread house.

The score was scaled down from Wagnerian proportions by MD Eric James, whose talent for conducting the singers from behind a small group of trees, stage left, showed considerable skill, if not telepathic powers.

The singing was pleasant on the ear in general, with duets between Hansel (Elizabeth Lorenzo) and Gretel (Pip Jenkinson) particularly well balanced. Favourites for me here were 'With Your Foot You Tap Tap Tap' – to which I found I could hum along – and the gorgeous echo sequence in the haunted wood.

The core singers were assisted by children from the Heather Millan School of Dance and pupils of Fairhaven Church of England Primary School. Their enthusiasm was infectious.

The set was simple and storybook, with grotesque, germanic trees bent along a series of flats and a small log cabin in section for the interior of the broom-makers' home. And with Quidenham Hos-pice and Muriel Bowl's charity benefiting from the tickets, this show is definitely worth a look.

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