Hansel and Grettel
Lyric Theatre, Belfast ***
In performance terms, Hansel and Grettel is an old favourite: Paul Boyd’s musical has been staged in eight professional productions since it premiered in 1997, and it is consistently popular. The big set-piece songs, while not the stuff of showbiz dreams, are perfectly serviceable, and keep the story bouncing along at a fair pace. The cannibal witch herself – “I’m not fussy about who I eat” – is played with glamorous, Bassey-esque aplomb by Jane Milligan, all slinky hips and sinister sequins, while a frog who thinks he’s Elvis (Tommy Wallace) sports an absurdly large quiff and a truly atrocious Southern accent.
There are a few cute comedic touches: Hansel and Grettel are surprised to encounter human-size birds in the forest, but are told that everyday birds aren’t small, they’re just far away. And the set is inventive: the action takes place between the pages of a giant open book. But it’s the “mega-mix” finale, an exuberant song and dance reprise of the entire story, that really captures the audience and carries them on to delighted final applause.
Until January 13th