Long Live the Fairy Tales

We took the kids today to see Hansel and Gretel at a local theater: Elden Street Players. Since our last visit to children's theater--where we saw Harold and the Purple Crayon--had been such a success, I have been looking for other nearby venues for the performing arts. My kids love this stuff.

Now I know fairy tales are a bit controversial these days. Stories like Rapunzel, Snow White, and Little Red Riding Hood have started becoming "B-list" stories. Or probably more like "C-list." Yes, they are dark. There is a lot of good and evil discussed in these stories. Many touch on death, jealousy and greed--all topics we probably wish our kids never had to know about until they are old enough to drive. But my kids are addicted to them. Last year we started reading them. Then we moved on to reading Greek myths and then reading Bible stories. You know what? They all talk about death, jealousy and greed as well. So what's the difference between today's children's stories and the ones that have been retold for generations. Today's fairy tales gloss over "good and bad." Things used to be very black and white in stories--witches, evil sorcerer, stepmothers. You can always find the good guy and the bad guy. Today's stories are a bit more ambiguous and there's a whole bunch of gray. Is that bad? I'm not sure what the answer is.

So I actually was a bit surprised with the production we saw today. Hansel and Gretel is a true-to-form Grimm's fairy tale and one that often raises eyebrows. But the production was great. They added in a few things to modernize it and liven it up a bit for the kiddies, but generally the meat was there. I was glad to still see the evil stepmother and the witch, who came off as the star of the production. And the audience cheered when she was finally pushed into the oven at the end.

If you live in outskirts of Northern Virginia and are looking for a great local production, this is one! Because it's children's theater it's completely kid friendly. (It's only a one-hour production.) One mom sat nursing her youngest in the front row with nary a glance from any other audience member.

The play runs for only a few more weekends and space is limited so order your tickets now.

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