Gregory Hancock gives fairy tales a fun twist

By John Lyle Belden

An issue I sometimes have with dance is that I find it hard to follow exactly what is going on, what the dancers are trying to portray — there is no such problem with “Once Upon a Time,” by Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre.

The subject matter is as familiar as childhood — popular fairy tales. But Gregory Glade Hancock and his dancers have put their own spin (and leap, and…) on the stories to freshen the narrative. Like in the musical “Into the Woods,” they all seem to occupy the same fanciful space, including an Enchanted Forest, in which the dancers got to work their own choreography.

Red Riding Hood (Hannah Brown) starts the stories by making her delivery. It seems Grandma appreciates the goodies so much, she just wants to dance with Red, though she does look suspiciously furry. As it turns out, the Wolf (Olivia Payton) while big, isn’t so bad — despite harassing pigs — and mostly just wants to get belly-rubs from the Princesses. 

Narcoleptic Beauty (Chloe Holzman) — turns out it wasn’t just a cursed spinning-wheel — turns in the show’s best performance, especially when constantly dancing in and out of consciousness with the Handsome Prince (Thomas Mason). She puts in moments of gracefully collapsing throughout the show, to great comic effect. As for his Highness, being the only man in the company, he has to be everybody’s Prince, which does result in a chase scene or two. But the one he loves is himself, exemplified with his solo number with a hand-mirror — what a “selfie” was 500 years ago.

In other stories coming to life: 

  • Cinderella (Camden Lancaster) sweeps through, dreaming of future happiness, but the glass that is most important to her is in the spectacles on her face, not the shoes on her feet. The Fairy Godmother (Hannah Winkler) gives her frames worthy of Elton John. But Cindy’s desire to look good is greater than her myopia, with appropriately funny results.
  • Little Bo Peep (Josie Moody) has given up on sheep and herds the Three Little Pigs (Payton*, Winkler, and Jillian Hogan). 

(*Not only ironic — playing Pig and Wolf — but I could have sworn all three Pigs were with the Wolf when he huffed and puffed them. Talk about talent.)

  • Rapunzel (Zoe Maish) has the strongest weave in the kingdom, which others can’t resist messing with. 
  • Snow White (Anna Williamson) shakes off the apple’s effect and, with the Prince otherwise occupied, looks for love elsewhere. Seven young students don cap and beard as the Seven Dwarves (Annabelle Breeden, Ashton Curry, Violet Kitchen, Vincent Kitchen, Josephine Meadows, Isabella Webb, and Elli Thacker) — one of which also opens the show by playing the Boy in pajamas with the storybook of these twisted tales.
  • Pinocchio (Morgan Beane) is the Trickster character of the show. Having not learned his lessons yet, he gets his long nose into all manner of mischief throughout the evening.
  • As for the Witch (Abigail Lessaris), the apple isn’t the only curse that’s failing. Her powers have fizzled, and she dances desperately to rekindle them — but be careful what you wish for.

We are also enchanted by some fairies (Zoe Hacker, Alyssa Henderson, Evangeline Meadows, Megan Webb). The supporting cast (who also act as ushers) include Stephanie Blaufuss, Allie Hanning, Audrey Holloway, Molly Kinkade, Stella Kitchen, Sophia Rice, Taylor Smith, Audrey Springer, Ava Thomas, and Rebecca Zigmond. 

This is the Hancock company’s annual cabaret fundraiser, fitting nicely into the big black-box studio of the Academy of GHDT (329 Gradle Drive, Carmel, near the Center for the Performing Arts). The students don’t pressure you too much to give, though there is a clever “grow Rapunzel’s hair” board to track giving. There is also a free treat at every seat.

The talent and athleticism are amazing to watch, with graceful and easy-to-follow storytelling through movement. This show gives a chuckle to all ages, is an easy inspiration to youth — and reminds the casual viewer that there is more to dance than “The Nutcracker.”

It’s also very popular. The final performances Saturday and Sunday are sold out, but Friday, Feb. 21, has been added. Get tickets at ghdtonceuponatime.eventbrite.com. Get company information at www.gregoryhancockdancetheatre.org.

 

Fun, Fun, fun

If you thought there was trouble in River City before, just wait until this cast gets done with the classic musical when Buck Creek Players' Play-A-Part Fundraiser presents
If you thought there was trouble in River City before, just wait until this cast gets done with the classic musical when Buck Creek Players’ Play-A-Part Fundraiser presents “The Music Man” for one wacky weekend. — BCP photo

Cue music: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

No, it’s not Christmas season already (though watch for decorations at the stores in a month or so), for folks like us who enjoy plays and playing games, August provides a bursting cornucopia of fun.

Yes, theatre friends, IndyFringe is almost upon us, but first…

This week, starting Wednesday (today, if you’re reading this on July 29) is the GenCon Game Fair, the world’s largest convention devoted to games, those who play them and those who make them. More than 60,000 happy nerds will overrun downtown Indianapolis, centering on the Indiana Convention Center, though many activities will be in nearby hotels and Union Station. If you are unfamiliar or don’t have much money to throw at this extravaganza, there is discount admission on Sunday, for Family Day (though the whole event is family-friendly).

Another note: The hallways of the convention center and hotel lobbies are open to the public. So, if you want to see and (respectfully) admire the many costumes attendees will be wearing, that doesn’t have to cost you a thing. However, the eye candy – while it makes good TV footage – is only a small fraction of the scene. If you like board, card, strategy or party games at all, you really need to get into this convention.

As for plays opening this weekend, we highly recommend fun of a different sort: The Buck Creek Players Play-A-Part Fundraiser production of “The Music Man.” The roles were all cast by winning a silent auction, with no requirements of age, gender, experience or even talent. Fortunately, director Scott Robinson levels the playing field by making the show an anything-can-happen live comedy in the tradition of TV’s classic “The Carol Burnett Show.” The result is highly entertaining, and the funds raised help with building improvements at this all-volunteer community theater. There are just four performances, Friday through Sunday, which are likely to sell out. Hit up the website or call 317-862-2270.

Sunday sees the return of the monthly experience that is “Going, Going, Gone” at Theatre on the Square. Co-creator Lou Harry has announced that, in honor of GenCon, the items bid on (which audience members get to win and keep) will be nerd-themed, as will be the cast, led by ubernerd (and Angel Burlesque MC) Jeff Angel. Also, wear a GenCon badge to the show, and get extra play money to bid with. Go, Go, Go, and quick, before the seats are gone!

– See you downtown!