3 December 2018
We sat down with the wonderful cast of Hansel & Gretel to get the lowdown on what's special about this year's Christmas show...
VF = Vanessa Fisher (Red/Townsperson) | JH = J.J. Henry (Gerhardt/Blue) | GW = Georgina White (Circe)
Can you tell us what Hansel & Gretel is about and why the story appeals to you?
VF: For me, Hansel & Gretel is a story that encourages children to believe and trust their inner magic, while inspiring adults to remember that theirs still exists.
JH: It’s about family, adventure, growing up, standing up against the baddies, good triumphing over evil, oh and a little house made of sweets. What doesn’t appeal?!
GW: The story appeals to me because it’s all about believing in yourself and finding your inner strength. Also, because it suggests that children have magic inside them and I absolutely believe this is true!
Tell us a bit about your character and what you are enjoying most?
VF: I play Red, otherwise known as Red Riding Hood. I believe the traditional story portrays her as a victim of the wolf. However, in Ciaran McConville’s adaptation, Red gets to be fun, feisty, sarcastic, witty and loyal all at once and I’m really enjoying playing her complexities.
JH: I play Gerhardt, who is the mayor of the town. He loves being adored by the townsfolk and he’ll do anything to stay popular and keep them happy. I also play Blue, a fairy from Grub. I’m really enjoying performing the amazing songs by Eamonn O’Dwyer, they’re beautifully written and really witty.
GW: Circe is a mysterious sorceress who knows what she wants – to take over the Kingdom. She is a strange creature; an enigma with the ability to transform others who get on the wrong side of her. She is smart, sassy, sarcastic, determined and fearless. I have loved unravelling the truth of this dark and twisted character with our director Rosie Jones, and learning the art of casting spells with fight directors Rc-Annie has been great fun.
Hansel & Gretel is a classic Brothers Grimm tale but what can audiences expect from this festive new version and do you have a favourite moment in the show?
VF: This is a story about humour, inner strength, family and of course Christmas! I love that audiences can expect to see some of their favourite fairy-tale characters all in one place.
JH: This is the story of Hansel & Gretel like you’ve never experienced! It’s jam-packed full of bonkers fairy-tale characters. Yes, there’s a mouth-watering gingerbread house to whet your appetite, but there’s SO much more! I’ve got a few favourite parts in the show, Hansel and Gretel have some beautiful moments together and some really funny scenes. The wolf and bear are cool too!
GW: This isn’t your average Christmas show. Of course the show is packed full of fun, laughter and fantastically clever original music by Eammon O Dwyer, but our story brings a real truth to the tale – the audience will really be taken on a journey. Parts of the show are very moving, in particular the scenes with Mother. You will also notice friendly faces from other fairy tales popping up in our show. Our modern adaptation of Hansel & Gretel is a glorious fusion of many fairy tales, so there will be definitely be a character everybody identifies with.
What is it like to work with the cast of young actors?
VF: It’s honestly been one of my favourite experiences in a rehearsal room throughout my career thus far. The young company bring endless possibilities with regards to their imagination and willingness to explore new ideas. Their fearlessness is something to marvel at and I hope it’s rubbed off on me.
JH: It’s a totally crazy rehearsal process having 42 young people involved but they’re all brilliant. They’re super talented actors and lovely people too. They bring so much to the show, awesome creative ideas and they aren’t afraid to try different ways of doing things.
GW: The young actors are so refreshing to work with and the energy they all have is quite extraordinary! Their raw talent is incredible to watch and I have loved playing in rehearsals with them. You can learn a lot from watching the young actors as they are so unaffected and truthful.
The story of Hansel & Gretel is all about adventure. If you could go on an adventure anywhere, where would you go and why?
VF: New York is always my first option because I adore the city. However after doing this show, I’d quite like to go to Grub, for real.
JH: Atlantis - I like swimming.
GW: There are so many adventures to choose from! I’d love to travel into Space – that’d be pretty exciting. I’m heading to the Galápagos Islands on my honeymoon after the show closes so that’ll be an adventure.
What do you love most about Christmas and what was the best present you have ever received?
VF: I love the smell of food, mulled wine and the best gift is the privilege of being around your family.
JH: Family and food have got to be the best things about Christmas! It being socially acceptable to have champagne for breakfast is also a bonus. One of the best presents I have ever received is a porringer (to make the perfect scrambled eggs) from Father Christmas.
GW: Christmas is all about spending time with your loved ones and making memories together. I adore the build-up to Christmas – the lights, the Christmassy smell, the buzz that’s in the air and putting up my tree is very special as my grandfather made many of our tree decorations. There is magic in the air at Christmas. The best present I have ever received was a giant toy monkey called Chucky when I was 8 – my baby nephew now plays with him.
Describe your perfect gingerbread house…
VF: It would have an assortment of sweeties, Biscoff cookies, gingerbread (of course!) and a stream of vegan chocolate.
JH: The roof would be tiled with walnut whips, bricks made of salted dark chocolate, Lindt chocolate balls stuffed in to fill any gaps. And tea cakes. Lots of tea cakes and absolutely no gingerbread.
GW: Dripping in Belgian chocolate and covered with sherbet spaceships!
And finally, tell us your best Christmas cracker joke…
VF: What did the stamp say to the Christmas card? Stick with me and we'll go places!