Alice Weber, Fred Ezell in a scene from The Bridge Players Theatre Company's THE BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON.

Alice Weber, Fred Ezell in a scene from The Bridge Players Theatre Company's THE BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON.

The Bridge Players Theatre Company’s Scandalous Take on The BROTHERS GRIMM

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“These are not your children’s fairy tales,” taunts the Bridge Players Theatre Company’s BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON as they poke fun and act silly recreating them on stage. Performing as a stage company tasked with recreating 209 of the brothers’ collected fairy tales, the Bridge Players take aim at the venerable fairy tales, looking at them from different perspectives. Director Tim Kirk says that The Reduced Shakespeare Company, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and even Bullwinkle’s Fractured Fairy Tales inspired this production.

The SPECTACULATHON stars, in no special order: Rumpelstiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Hansel, Gretel, the Wolf, and, of course, the Dwarfs, with a surprise appearance by the Crab People.

The production makes us see the fairy tales as real life, bringing up the important questions of why the characters act as they do, while questioning the fundamental realities of the stories. Imagine being Rapunzel–locked away in a tower and everyone, who wants to see her, uses her hair as rope.! Ouch! Can a wolf really masquerade as human–as Grandma? Really? Or, would a princess (or anyone really) kiss a frog or a fish? Yuck! Wait ’til you hear the real story of Cinderella…

Shelby Tibbets, Francis Pedersen are members of the cast of THE BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON.

Why would a person, especially a princess, kiss a frog? Shelby Tibbets and Francis Pedersen help answer that question in THE BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON.

These dysfunctional fairy tales are not the ones you heard as a child either. Nor are they the “grimmer” original tales. These representations are something else entirely fun for grown-ups, teens, and children; although parents should be aware that these fairy tales are not the same ones, they told to their children growing up. The original (Grimm) tales contain more violence and horror, magic and sugary morality.

Adults and the children alike enjoyed the BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON anyway, seeing some of their favorite fairy tale characters in a different light, twisted with role and gender reversals, i.e., cross-dressing fairytale characters. The result was hilarity, a gaiety of spirit, with the kids in the audience, cackling and giggling the entire time—and their parents happy to see them have so much, while enjoying the show on a different level.

It must be those silly grown-ups on stage and off. Did I mention that the show was interactive? The audience gets a chance warn their favorite characters as they plod innocently and obliviously along.

If you don’t wish to read on, I understand. Some childhood memories are sacred. However, trust me, we all come away from this experience unscathed, chuckling and chortling all the way home. I came home and even re-read some of those fairy tales, and couldn’t begin writing this review until the next day. Seriously.

Bridge Players’ BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON is entertaining and delightful. And, the theatre serves cake at intermission!

Now, back to the play…

There is the idea of love at first sight, a slightly modernized version of just about every fairy tale character’s experience with love, and living happily ever after. The cast, including two narrators, tell the stories of how angry witches cursed certain princes and turned them into animals, in particular, the Frog and Fish.

Are the stories too absurd? Perhaps, when we have a person–especially a princess–kissing a fish or frog. But, they do. Why do children go into the woods to set upon by witches and wolves? They should know better. For the theatre, it’s a good time to address peer pressure. To change it up a bit, we learn about the origin of witches…and, the result of greedy wishes. We see the famous dwarfs…er, little people, and their “realistic” reactions to a gigantic “hottie” Snow White. You get the idea.

Then, there is the comparison with all other female characters who marry princes right after receiving their first kiss. How do you tell the difference between Snow White and Beauty? “They’re both white!” exclaims one actor, a laudable reference for Disney’s Princess of color in The Princess and the Frog. Versions of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales we read today do not deal with diversity. Well, actually racial and religious diversity were a part of the original tales, but all from the point of view of medieval northern Europeans. Remember that the origin of the stories date back to that time. Later, editors considered some material too raw for readers refused to publish it. Even the Grimm Brothers were not without their detractors.

Behind all of this is the desire for children to learn and be entertained at the same time. Fairy tales are morality plays, pure and simple, but not a very accurate depiction of society then or now.

In performing this scandalous take on our beloved fairy tales, the BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON production shows us what happens when thinking adults try to make literal sense of the fairy tales.

The Bridge Players did a terrific job putting this rather unusual production together, combining all the spontaneity of comedy, slapstick and comic timing. Of all the shows I’ve seen at this theatre, this is the Bridge Players’ best.

Let no player go unannounced or unnoticed in this truly ensemble production, aptly directed by newcomer, Tim Kirk, and produced by Steve Shinn. The cast did an incredible job with help from a superior tech group. According to the program, these are The Not Ready for Bedtime Players: Stephanie Carr, John Weber, Tony Miele, Alice Weber, Jessi Meisel, Jeanne Haynes, Fred Ezell, Francis Pedersen, Shelby Tibbetts and Paul Sollimo.

Tickets are $20, and include dessert and beverages served during intermission. Call (856) 303-7620 or visit www.bridgeplayerstheatre.com for tickets or more information.

THE BROTHERS GRIMM SPECTACULATHON
Written by Don Zolidis
Directed by Tim Kirk
October 3, 4, 5*, 10, 11, 12*, 17, 18, 2014
*Matinee performance
The October 12th performance will be sign interpreted.
The Bridge Players Theatre Company
Broad Street United Methodist Church
36 E Broad St,
Burlington, New Jersey 08016
(856) 303-7620
www.bridgeplayerstheatre.com

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Jack Shaw

Jack Shaw

Jack has directed such plays as HARVEY, LOVERS AND OTHER STRANGERS, ROMANTIC COMEDY, BLITHE SPIRIT, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, and CREATION OF THE WORLD AND OTHER BUSINESS; and acted in various Regional theaters throughout the country. His professional musical theater experience includes such roles as Nathan in GUYS AND DOLLS, Perchik in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, Mordred in CAMELOT, and Ice in WEST SIDE STORY. He has performed as Touchstone in AS YOU LIKE IT and Prince/Chorus in ROMEO AND JULIET in Shakespeare summer stock, toured as Tom in THE GLASS MENAGERIE with The National Deaf Theatre Company. As a staff commercial announcer in radio and television he has done hundreds of regional commercials as well as many national and some international spots for the U.S. Air Force. If he is acting, he likes to play bad guys—like the Nazi officer in NUMBER THE STARS. If he is directing, he likes straight plays as opposed to musicals. He recently played Candy in OF MICE AND MEN and Tony Abbott in HEAVEN CAN WAIT. Before that, the abusive dad in THE BOYS NEXT DOOR and an old fool in PLAY ON! He is a steady reviewer for STAGE Magazine, while he continues to write several articles a week for various blogs, including Shaw’s Reality. He has published two books on theatre, one on training and development, and a novel, In Makr’s Shadow. He teaches English, speech and drama part-time as a visiting professor or adjunct instructor for local colleges and universities.

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