Everyone knows the Brothers Grimm fairy tales can be a little, well, grim.
But did you know they can also be hilarious?
Iola High School’s drama students tackle all 209 fairy tales in 60 minutes, starting at 7 p.m. tonight and Friday with the play, “The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon.” It will be performed at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center, where coronavirus restrictions are required, including wearing masks and social distancing.
The play offers a fun romp through tales both familiar and bizarre, with a relatively small cast portraying a very large number of characters.
Two narrators serve as your guides through this madcap circus adventure. The versatile Austin Morris, with his gregarious and frenetic energy, leads the audience through twists and turns. The delightful Hannah Andersen plays a sort of “good cop” to his slightly maniacal character, calmly bringing the show back to order.
As an audience member, you will be a vital part of the show. You’ll need to provide sound effects, and your enthusiasm is vital to the well-being of at least one character.
The story starts with a twist to a familiar tale, as the clueless “Girl” played by Macie Hoag sells her soul to not just one but three evil characters: the devil, a troll and an evil enchantress. She promises her unborn daughter in exchange for a prince and gold.
We all know that’s not going to turn out well for anyone, but Hoag plays the role with the right amount of naivety and self-centered stupidity.
All students take on several roles, giving them multiple opportunities to shine.
Eve Ard isn’t your typical fairy tale princess. Make that, princesses, in multiple roles as Rapunzel, Gretel and Snow White. She takes charge of her own story, forcing Bobby Lewis into a gender bending role as the helpless heroine.
Lewis also charms the audience as the cluelessly hungry Hansel who has a passion for sweets.
Kendall Glaze stands out in a breakout role as Dwarf 1, giving the character an endearing enthusiasm.
Em Ator and Alissa Yarnell play multiple witches and other evil characters, all who meet a bad ending. They are delightfully dark, even if they get the various “death scenes” a little confused. She’s melting, melting… Oh, wrong story.
Several characters meet their demise on stage, and the narrators drag them away. Remember, it’s a Grimm fairy tale.
Even some of the character actors are shocked to learn the depth of darkness underlying those original stories. They’re full of cannabalism, murder, mutilation and very few happy endings.
FINALLY, it’s the story of Cinderella and the big ball.
Hoag returns as the iconic beauty forced to work as a servant in her own home, bullied by her stepmother and stepsisters.
But it’s Jonathon Poffenbarger who is the star of this tale.
He appeared earlier as a cast member more concerned about the catering than the action on stage. But when the food goes bad and the other actors are out of commission, he’s the only one left to fill their bloody shoes.
Over the course of a few minutes, Poffenbarger plays five different characters. Give props to the props, which help identify him in the various roles, but it’s Poffenbarger’s dexterity that brings down the house. He switches wigs and accents to play the two evil stepsisters and the stepmother — all in the same scene, all having conversations with each other — then has to play both Cinderella (in drag) and Prince Charming at the same time.
It’s exhausting just watching him.
IF YOU can’t make it to the show, it will be available on Broadway on Demand April 17 and 18. Look for updates on Facebook, and search for ihstheaterforensics.