Chester Academy to perform the Brothers Grimm, with a twist

Chester. You’ll see different takes on classics like “Snow White," “Cinderella,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and the more obscure and strange “The Devil's Grandmother.” Watch for the actors playing multiple roles and some surprises thrown in. There will be audience participation, too.

12 Nov 2019 | 08:34

These are not your parents’ fairy tales. In fact, there’s nary a fairy in them.

The tales of the Brothers Grimm are turned on their heads in the Chester Academy's fast-paced romp through nine of the tales. Two narrators and a team of actors combine and relate them from a high schooler’s perspective, with lots of unexpected twists and turns. Some follow the endings in the original stores, while others do not.

There are also two new tales by Zolidis that keep the action moving. One is a game show format, and the other ties all the tales together at the end. A number of the original Children’s and Household Tales of the Brothers Grimm were, frankly, a little grimmer: much of the happily-ever-after was added in later re-tellings. Yet, these versions are side-splittingly funny and acted with aplomb by the cast under the sure hand of student-director, Anya Starr-Quinn. And these familiar characters exhibit unexpected sides to their personalities.

When "The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon" is performed at the Chester Academy later this month, you’ll see different takes on classics like “Snow White," “Cinderella,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and the more obscure and strange “The Devil's Grandmother.” Watch for the actors playing multiple roles and some surprises thrown in. There will be audience participation, too.

Kudos to Mr. Rodman and his grandmother, Julia Rodman. Jeff Rodman is not only the drama coach, but he and a volunteer crew of 12 students constructed and painted all the props and set pieces outside of shop classes. Lisa Terrace took measurements for the costumes, and Jeff’s grandmother, Julia, a retired elementary teacher and seamstress, made all of the costumes but one.

Students embrace their roles

This is student Anya’s first time directing. “The show is a bunch of fairy tales, but told with the proper ending with kind of a funky twist to it. Disney sometimes take stories and changes the ending to make it more family friendly and happy; and this is told how the stories are actually written,” Starr-Quinn said. “I didn’t know that most of these stories have these gruesome endings, but they do.”

Joe Catalano plays the prince of Denmark and the frog prince. It's his first foray into acting, "unless you count my fourth-grade play “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." I was Grandpa Joe, go figure --because my name is Joe. The drama club — I love seeing their performances and this year, I decided why not just do the play for once. I love it, I love Anya, the director. She’s done a great job doing this entire thing, I love the set, I love the cast. I’ve been having lots of fun with it.”

Zuria Freeman is also having fun. "Each person adds a little comedy and spice to it," she said. "It’s nothing like the (original) Grimm’s fairy tales.”

Mia Rosario, who plays Little Red Riding Hood, said that "in this version, Little Red Riding Hood is not completely super sweet. She can be very sweet one moment and totally the opposite the next.”

Kania Walker plays the enchantress, a dwarf, and Cinderella. “It was difficult because you have to do different characters with different accents,” Kania said. “The most difficult was Cinderella, by far, because she’s such a historical figure. Everyone knows Cinderella and they have their own version.”

Michael Miller, who plays Hansel, says "it's a little gruesome, but I think the audience will love it. We’ll try to keep it family-friendly so everyone will have a good laugh and a good time.”

Jelena Diaz plays Snow White and other parts. “She’s not the conventional Snow White from the movie," she said. "She’s very empowered. It’s a different take.”

Mr. William Strack, who teaches high school social studies, will be the voice of the Giant and the voice of God. “I like working with the students and seeing them in a different place other than the classroom,” he said

Directors

Student director: Anya Starr-Quinn

Drama club advisor: Jeff Rodman

Assistant director: Lisa Terrace

Technical directors: Derek Beck, Samuel Guardiola, Chen Xuan

Artistic director: Jolisa Podolsky and Hannah Drillings

Lighting director: Aurora Meinsen

The play is produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc.

If you go:
What: "The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon"
Where: Chester Academy, 64 Hambletonian Avenue
When: 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, and Saturday, Nov. 23
How much: General admission is $8, students and senior citizens pay $5. Tickets on sale at the door.
Call for information: 845-469-2231 ext. 3329