Sutter Street stages gets Grimm, looks to history

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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What: Hansel & Gretel
When:  1 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, April 20 through May 19
What: The Big Bang
When:  8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays, April 27 through May 19
Where:  Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Folsom
Tickets and info:  (916) 353-1001,

FOLSOM, CA - If you’re in the mood for a fantasy getaway, Sutter Street’s got you covered this month. In the mid 1700s, German brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, also known as the Brothers’ Grimm, adapted folktales they had heard in their travels and turned them in to scary stories – definitely not suitable for bedtime reading. Thank goodness B Street Theatre’s Jerry and Malachi Montoya re-purposed the iconic Hansel & Gretel, creating a twisting tale that includes a witch who doesn’t want to be a witch anymore, a hopping musical score, and young Elly nominated actors who will bring this tale to Sutter Street’s stage under the tutelage of seasoned director, Allen Schmeltz.

“I saw the show about a year ago when B Street did it, and I really liked it,” Schmeltz said. “We all know that the Brothers’ Grimm’s stories could be pretty dark – In this story, the witch is reformed in the end, and the play is really uplifting.”

Another exciting twist on Sutter Street’s tale includes the German tradition of puppetry.

According to Schmeltz, large puppets, Pookins the Cat and Fritzi the Dog are characters that require an actual puppeteer to bring them to life.

“B Street created these puppets and they were gracious enough to loan them, and also to send staff over to help our cast with them,” Schmeltz said.

This story will delight children, literature lovers, and fairy-tale enthusiasts, alike.

If you’re in the mood for a rollicking great time, get ready for the Big Bang.

Directed by Connie Mockenhaupt, the show follows two wannabe producers who set out to create the most lavish musical that Broadway has ever seen.

“It’s a real challenge to re-create the entire history of the world in a two-hour performance, performed by just two men,” Mockenhaupt said.

Two actors, one pianist, and a very exclusive penthouse are the performers and setting for a show in which our two protagonists shape their Broadway spectacular in a borrowed luxury apartment.

“The show they want to put together has 12,000 characters and a running time of 10 hours,” Mockenhaupt said. “And they’re creating the props by using only items that are in the apartment.”

You can imagine that the history of the world would include some wonderful and outlandish characters and costumes. Queen Isabella makes an appearance, as does Christopher Columbus, Adam and Eve, and even the love-to-hate-him Henry VIII. More contemporary characters like Tokyo Rose and Eva Braun make an appearance as well.

“This is one of my favorite shows that we have ever done,” Mockenhaupt said. “But it’s not really suitable for kids.”

Some comparisons can be made of Big Bang and the Producers, but Mockenhaupt said Big Bang is much faster paced.

Sutter Street favorites Michael Coleman and David Holmes star, and the production includes original music from ballads to lively urban punk.

“The show has everything,” said Mike Jimena, the theater’s director of operations. “And the show only runs for four weekends, so you had better get your tickets fast.”