Youth campers join Gretel (Rebecca Cyr)

Youth campers join Gretel (Rebecca Cyr)

Youth play upgrades ‘Hansel and Gretel’

The Missoula Children's Theatre visited the Island to put on performances of 'Hansel and Gretel'

PORT McNEILL—Saturday’s play featuring local youth at Gatehouse Community Theatre was a fairy tale, a musical, a comedy, a mystery and a story within a story.

And it took only five days to produce.

A small but enthusiastic cast joined a pair of touring actor/directors from Missoula Children’s Theatre of Missoula, Mont., for a week of auditions, rehearsals and workshops, which culminated in two performances of Hansel and Gretel.

As with most Missoula Children’s Theatre scripts, this was not quite the traditional story you and your parents grew up with. In this tale, the young protagonists are Hank and Gretchen (Taryn Walker and Rebecca Cyr), siblings forced to remain home while their friends all go to summer camp.

But they are given a book by their cousin which sends them on a dream trip into the dark, wild wood, where they are welcomed by the Wildwood Witch (Bethany Waines) and her Nasty Nasties, crafty cooks and gingerbread men.

When invited to the witch’s dinner, the kids — and the audience — are shocked by a surprising revelation concerning the witch’s eating habits.

Due to the small turnout for auditions, Missoula actor Taylor Colleen Peters took on three roles, Missoula director Preston-Joseph Woods also took on two roles, and local performer Tony Shepley was both actor and assistant director.

Jen Lubrick provided accompaniment on piano, Joel Waines worked the sound board, and the production was hosted by Kathy Martin. Sponsors included the Gate House Community Association, the Andrew Mahon Foundation and several local businesses and individuals.

North Islanders who missed Saturday’s shows still have a chance to catch the performance this weekend at Port Hardy Secondary School theatre. The Missoula troupe auditioned young thespians in Port Hardy Tuesday and have been working this week for another pair of showings of Hansel and Gretel, Saturday at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.