Theater Works turns fairy tales upside down: “In the Village of the Brothers Grimm”

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Photo courtesy of Theater Works.
Alec Pursell as Joringel (left) and Jayla Quartullo as Elvina star in “In the Village of the Brothers Grimm” Nov. 4-20 in Peoria. Photos by Moran Imaging; courtesy of Theater Works.

Think of fairy-tale characters, and what comes to mind? Cinderella? Hansel and Gretel? Snow White? Sure.

But the devil’s grandmother or a talking fish? Not so much.

Yet these actually are characters found in “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” 209 stories collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The brothers were German scholars who set about preserving the fairy tales that had been passed down from generation to generation as part of a rich oral tradition.

Nov. 4–20, Theater Works in Peoria promises to turn these classic tales completely upside down and inside out, taking audiences on a fast-paced, rollicking ride known as “In the Village of the Brothers Grimm.”

In eight different stories, this one-act dramedy by Claudia Haas explores heroics and comedy, witches and magic, love and loss. The YouthWorks production is produced by special arrangement with YouthPLAYS.

Under the artistic direction of Chris Hamby, Jason Washburn directs the show, with the help of Maggie Niven, assistant director and McMillin Fellow. Fourteen cast members portray the residents of this magical village — among them a rhyming witch, a sassy fairy, a crying princess and an unlikely hero.

Elizabeth Meek as Timberly in “In the Village of the Brothers Grimm.”Photos by Moran Imaging; courtesy of Theater Works.
Elizabeth Meek is Timberly in “In the Village of the Brothers Grimm.” Photos by Moran Imaging; courtesy of Theater Works.

“The young actors do a masterful job with comedic timing and command of the material,” says Washburn. “These things, added together along with a bright and colorful set, put this play in the must-see category.”

Rather than there being a few principal actors, all cast members play multiple roles throughout the show:

• This is the second YouthWorks production for 8-year-old Elie Anthony (Silly Goose, Elfin, Jessup, Fritz), her first being “Charlotte’s Web.” Other credits include “Mr. Toad’s Mad Adventures” and “Chicken in My Soup” for Acting Zone in Goodyear. She is in third grade at Litchfield Elementary.

• A sophomore at Verrado High School in Buckeye, Noah Consalvo (Karl, Social Goose, Onilde, Johan, Neely) is 15 and has been involved with theater for eight years.

• A 15-year- old ninth-grader at North Pointe Preparatory Academy in Phoenix, Emilio Cress (Abel, Woody, Parson Braun) has been in more than 35 Theater Works productions, with such lead roles as Horton in “Seussical Jr.,” Mowgli in “The Jungle Book,” Archie in “13 The Musical” and Little Boy in “Ragtime.”

Drake Ethan Current (Fox, Hans, King Good, Childer) has done shows for Theater Works since 2014, beginning with “The Tales from the Arabian Nights” and most recently, “Les Misérables School Edition.” Other roles for the 17-year-old senior at Arizona Conservatory for Arts and Academics in Phoenix include John Darling in Anthem’s Starlight Community Theater’s “Peter Pan and Wendy” and George Gibbs in ACAA’s “Our Town.”

Emily Diab, 14, (Clever Alice, Annaliese, Sonorous Goose, Alder) began acting at age 6 and has been in more than 16 productions. “In the Village of the Brothers Grimm” is the third Theater Works show for the ninth-grader at Verrado High School.

Hailey Forbis (Yohana, Gretchen, Malinda, Simple Goose) is a 16-year- old sophomore at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale who has appeared before for Theater Works in “The Jungle Book.” Other credits include Juror No. 10 in “12 Angry Jurors” and Charlotte in “Oliver!” at Starlight.

• In her 11th production and her fourth for Theater Works, 15-year-old Jacklynn Haughn (Narrator 2) attends Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria.

• “The Brothers Grimm” will be the sixth Theater Works show for Nicole Hedges (Narrator 1), who recently appeared in “Twilight’s Quest” and “Charlotte’s Web.” She is a 14-year- old freshman at Verrado High School.

Elizabeth Meek (Sexton White, Timberly, Soulful Goose, Maleen) is 13 and in the seventh grade at Copperwood Elementary School in Glendale.

• Also performing in her second Theater Works show is Elyse Mielke (Lizilia, Liesl, Crying Princess Esmerelda), an eighth-grader at Copperwood Elementary. She was previously seen in “The Jungle Book” for Theater Works.

• Making his Theater Works debut is Alec Pursell (Joringel, Simpleton), an eighth-grader at Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix. He has previously played Edmund in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and Wonderbread in “Some Kind of Wonderbread: Not a John Hughes Movie,” both for Acting Zone.

• Last seen in “Twilight’s Quest” and “Charlotte’s Web” for Theater Works, Jayla Quartullo (Elvina, Gertrude, Annika) is 14 and a freshman at Millennium High School in Goodyear.

Ilse Reisert (Jorinda’s Mother, Elsa, Serioso Goose, Olga) recently appeared in “The Jungle Book” and “Charlotte’s Web” for Theater Works. She is a 15-year- old homeschooler.

• A 13-year old eighth-grader at Imagine Prep in Surprise, Ryley Grace Youngs (Jorinda, Brunhilda, Odd Person) has appeared previously as Mayzie La Bird in “Seussical Jr.” at Stage Dreams Youth Theater and as Tweedle Dee in “Alice in Wonderland Jr.” at Glendale’s Spotlight Youth Theatre.

Theater Works deems “In the Village of the Brothers Grimm” an all-ages show.

If you go: Nov. 4–20; 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays. McMillin Theater at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, 8355 W. Peoria Ave. $16. 623-815- 7930 or theaterworks.org. For information about ADA seating, please call the box office.

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