Thanks to the generosity of my long time childhood friend, Pat, Devi and I had the opportunity to see Hansel and Gretel, danced by members of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Before the performance, DiAnna, graciously took us back stage to mingle with a couple of dancers and see the colorful sets, including the sweet treats hidden in the witches candy house. Did I say witch? Despite Devi’s obsessive concern for the where abouts of that mean witch, we managed to capture a couple photo opportunities and smiles. Under Devi's watchful and suspicious eye, viewed from behind my leg, we also spent a moment with the narrator of the show, the wizard, who presented Devi with a ceramic gingerbread boy.
Still not weighing enough to hold down the retractable cushioned seats in McCall Hall, Devi took her position in the balcony row F, seat 9. A professional in her own mind, with nearly six months of dance lessons under her own belt, I knew that she would be so much more fascinated by the dancers this year. As the curtain raised in the darkened theater, she immediately went into that fully captivated trance-like stare. Within seconds, purely out of habit and with no conscious thought, her out stretched thumb slowly floated it’s way up into her mouth, and she was gone.
As the stage filled with characters, Devi's curiosity began. Adding an airy and raspy tone to her normal speaking voice (otherwise known as a child’s whisper) she began her knees-up-to-her-chin litany of questions. Moments later, finding that place of comfort in daddy's lap, they "quietly" discussed each and every dancer and prop as they entered and exited the stage, all the while anticipating the arrival of that mean witch.
Switching laps from daddy's to mine, I got to experience the last half of the performance through her non-stop narrative interpretation. Through the fabric of her flowery dress, I could feel her racing heartbeat as Devi realized the presence of the witch on stage, costumed in a bright green and black dress, with red striped leggings and pointy hat.Thankfully the music and choreography remained playful and light, so as to keep her calm enough to remain seated in my lap. Naturally, I had to explain the oven, which in my quick thoughts became "like a jail" and the chicken bone Hansel extended to the witch was "to see if the boy was ready to be made into a gingerbread cookie" rather than to see if he was fat enough to eat! At this point, it dawned on me that children's classics, and especially the Brother's Grimm are...well...grim!
Just as the gingerbread boys and cats began turning themselves back into the lost children, and the father of Hansel and Gretel, once again found his children in the deep forest, Devi breathed a sigh of relief and questioned, "and they lived happily ever after?" which was echoed by our friend the wizard, and narrator of the show.
Twirling our way through the lobby, and making our way to our car, parked in the parking garage, and even on to the Old Spaghetti Factory where we went for dinner, we discussed the wonder of this whimsical live performance. Each of Devi's comments followed by her lasting impression...."but...I didn't like that witch, mama!"