The Mid-Columbia Ballet brings the classic story of Hansel and Gretel to the stage April 19 in the auditorium at Chiawana High School in Pasco.
With a cast of 70 dancers and actors, the ballet promises to bring as much joy to the audience as the company's Christmas ballet Nutcracker, said Joel Rogo, co-director.
"Hansel and Gretel is one of our favorite children's ballets," he said. "With sets and costumes professionally designed by Greg Elder of Seattle, it will be a performance that is sure to please."
Making his stage debut as the wicked witch will be Kyle Cox, the CEO of Mid-Columbia Libraries.
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"Hansel and Gretel is very much like a Roald Dahl story," Cox said. "Children are the heroes, it has a larger-than-life villain, and in the end the children outwit the cunning witch and save their family. Both boys and girls will enjoy this adventure."
Portraying Hansel and Gretel are Bradley Streetman, 15, from Richland High School, and Sierra Montoya, 15, from Kamiakin High School in Kennewick.
"I love everything about Hansel and Gretel," Sierra said. "I have learned so much about acting, which will help me in the future. I am so excited, honored and thankful to be dancing my first lead role. The last time I danced in this ballet I was a gingerbread child."
Sierra adds that working with Cox has been a learning experience.
"I've learned so much by watching him," she said. "He's charismatic and makes a great witch."
Bradley is as enthusiastic as his costar.
"I adore my role as Hansel because it's so different than any other role I've had," he said. "Hansel has minimal dancing and is predominately acting. I was one of the youngest dancers in this ballet the last time the Mid-Columbia Ballet did Hansel and Gretel in 2008. Sierra has been such a pleasure to work with. Her work ethic is truly inspiring and she pushes me to be the best I can."
Artistic director Debra Rogo thought it was time to bring Hansel and Gretel back to life after a six-year hiatus, she said.
"Bradley and Sierra danced the roles of tiny gingerbread children and today they have grown into wonderful and mature young dancers," she said. "We are happy to be performing Hansel and Gretel at Chiawana High auditorium. It will make for a much more intimate environment and really bring the action right to the audience."
Joel Rogo adds that much has changed since the last time the company presented the ballet.
"We forget how much our dancers have grown up and improved since 2008," he said. "Bradley and Sierra were small children then, and now they are outstanding in the their lead roles."
There will be 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. performances April 19. General admission is $10 with tickets available in advance at www.midcolumbiaballet.org or 946-5417.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal