The Misadventures of Hansel and Gretel

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FEATURE ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, Saturday, May 6, 2000, By Sarah Fenske

"AVON -- The casting for the world premiere of ''The Misadventures of Hansel and Gretel'' might read something like this:

Take four members of Avon's Girl Scout Troop 196, ages 10 to 13.

Add four friends and one little sister.

Put them in an old-fashioned fairy tale with today's sensibilities.

The result?

An hour-long comedy that might not be ready for Broadway, but for its nine young actresses, the three-month effort has been exciting, fun and rewarding.

''We had to make it good,'' explained 13-year-old C.J. Young, who plays the wicked stepmother. ''We're having two performances, and we didn't want people to leave the first one and warn other people away.''

C.J., along with three other members of Troop 196, did everything from paint the sets to write the script, the latter with the help of Jenny DiSalvo, founder of the Avon Lake Summer Youtheater.

Hansel and Gretel
Members of the cast and crew of "The Misadventures of Hansel and Gretel" on the Avon High School stage:
front, left to right, Arianna Goudreault, Stephanie Perkins, Shannon Young, Melissa Henehan, Charlotte Young and Malorie Rooney
back, left to right, Sarah Pubal, Theresa Pubal, C. J. Young, Ray Young and Ellen Young
(Morning Journal/Tom Whittington)

''We got together, and they gave me their ideas,'' DiSalvo said. ''I came up with a script, but then they improvised a lot of the dialogue. In some parts, whatever they said is what we wrote into the play.''

That means the script bears the stamp of the girls' experiences. The play opens with two of them screaming over the Nintendo, hardly a conventional fairy tale beginning.

Things get even more interesting. And although details of the script have been pledged to secrecy, the Easter bunny makes an appearance. Thanks to tinkering with the script, that same Easter bunny lives to the end, 13-year-old Sarah Pubal promised.

''It wouldn't be nice to have violence,'' she said, decked out in her fuzzy Easter Bunny suit. ''We're doing this for kids! So we took that part out.''

For Troop Leader Ellen Young, who has been with the troop since its members were 5 years old, the drama experience has been an eye-opener.

''I've learned more about these girls through this than in the six or seven years I've been with them,'' she said. ''This isn't me delegating to them. This is theirs. They are running this show.''

Charlotte Young, 10, who plays Hansel and Gretel's father, said the three months of rehearsing have taught an important lesson.

''If you work really hard, things can turn out really great,'' she said.

Performances will be today [5-6-00] and May 13 at 11 a.m. in the Avon High School auditorium. Adult tickets are $2, with children under 12 for $1.50. All proceeds go the troop's Trip Planning Fund."

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