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DAYTON OPERA WELCOMES DAYTON BALLET II, ZOOT THEATRE COMPANY AND KETTERING CHILDREN’S CHOIR, BRINGING THE CLASSIC FAIRY TALE OF HANSEL AND GRETEL TO LIFE

 

CONTACT:
Angela Whitehead
Interim Communications & Media Manager
Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
Dayton Ballet / Dayton Opera / Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
126 N. Main St., Suite 210, Dayton OH 45402
O: (937)224-3521 x1138  F: (937)223-9189

DAYTON, OH (February 10, 2014) – On Friday, February 21 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, February 23 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Dayton Opera, under the leadership of Artistic Direction Thomas Bankston, will present Engelbert Humperdinck’s timeless classic Hansel and Gretel, in English with English surtitles above the stage. The production’s Leadership Sponsors for these performances are Dayton Power & Light Company Foundation, Premier Health and The Bill and Jackie Lockwood Family Foundation.

A poor woodcutter. His hard-working wife. Their son and daughter lost in the woods.  And a sinister witch determined to capture the children, bake them into gingerbread, and eat them. This is a fairy tale? Yes, and it is also an opera! This timeless Brothers Grimm favorite is both delightful and intriguing, making it an operatic experience for the entire family. The production is suitable for adults, teens and children ages 6 and above. 

Singer, actor and director Gary Briggle, a Dayton Opera favorite, returns to not only direct this production but also to bring to life the role of an over-the-top Witch who lures Hansel and Gretel into her confectionary world. This will be Gary’s eighth time working with the Dayton Opera. “I'm most grateful for the opportunity to return to Dayton Opera and to sing a role that is very significant in my career, having sung this role several times in the past. This will be the first time I have both directed and performed the opera, so the challenge of organizing the rehearsal process and harnessing the exhilarating collaboration between Zoot Theatre, Dayton Ballet II, Kettering Children's Choir and Dayton Opera is thrilling.  I'm very excited about the dimensions these amazingly imaginative, supremely talented artists bring to Humperdinck's masterpiece...it's all quite inspiring - and energizing!”

Perhaps the most innovative piece of this performance of Hansel and Gretel will be the collaboration of the Dayton Opera with the Zoot Theatre Company. Tristan Cupp will bring the magic of puppetry of his Zoot Theatre Company onto the Mead stage, delighting the audience with whimsical forest creatures and mystical characters of the enchanted forest and the fantastical world of the Witch. Joining the singing actors and puppets on stage will be dancers from the Dayton Ballet II Senior Company, choreographed by Abigail Beam, making her choreographic debut in this performance.  The puppets of the Zoot Theatre and the dancers from Dayton Ballet II Senior Company, promise to bring a fresh, new element of fantasy to this classic favorite.                                    

Aside from the wonder and fantasy of German composer Engelbert Humperdinck’s great opera, its appeal also extends to the opera devotee who can revel in its lush and sophisticated score, filled with beautiful and favorite melodies, performed by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Jeffrey Powell, who has been working with the Dayton Opera for over 20 years, comes back to the podium for this performance as conductor and chorus master. Mr. Powell has served as the chorus master for Dayton Opera since 1991, and in Hansel and Gretel, he will also be directing the Kettering Children’s Choir, who will provide their youthful, vocal energy to this production. 

“Dayton Opera has had a great history of collaboration with arts and community organizations to further enrich the quality and depth of its productions,” explains Dayton Opera Artistic Director Thomas Bankston.  “And Hansel & Gretel is no exception with the rich collaborations we are enjoying with Zoot Theatre Company, Dayton Ballet II, and Kettering Children’s Choir.  Our offerings are certainly stronger when we partner, and the benefits of that partnership are certainly shared by everyone, especially our audience.”

Members of the Dayton Opera 2013-2014 Artists-In-Residence Program will appear on stage with the Dayton Opera in the title and featured roles of this production. Soprano Rachel Policar, winner of the 2013 New York Lyric Opera Theatre National Vocal Competition, makes her Dayton Opera debut in the role of Gretel. Mezzo-Soprano Jennifer Panara, praised as having a “voice of immense brilliance and versatility” (General-Anzeiger, Bonn, Germany), also makes her Dayton Opera debut in the role of Hansel.  Tenor Logan Rucker appears as the voice of Sandman/Dew Fairy, after most recently appearing on stage as Spoletta in Dayton Opera’s Tosca last fall.

Additional talented singing actors round out the cast of this upcoming performance.  Soprano Alexandra Loutsion, possessed of what a Pittsburgh Tribune Review described as …”a masterful blend of vocal acting with stylized movement…”, makes her Dayton Opera debut as Gertrude, the children’s Mother.  Baritone Mark Baker, Professor of Voice and the Director of Opera/Musical Theater at Capital University in Columbus, returns to the Dayton Opera as Peter, the children’s Father, having most recently played Benoit/Alcindoro in Dayton Opera’s 2011 production La Bohème. 

“I'm so fortunate to have the support and expertise of Tom Bankston, Pam Eyink and conductor Jeffrey Powell, a dazzling cast of singer-actors, an excellent stage management staff, a superb design team and the highly skilled technicians of The Schuster Center to accomplish this enormous task,” adds Gary Briggle.  “I'm sure the result will be fantastical, funny, touching and even a bit spooky... just what The Brothers Grimm had in mind when they penned the classic fairy tale.”

Several pre-performance events are set to highlight the Dayton Opera’s presentation of Hansel and Gretel as follows:

-       February 14, 2014 - 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. – Lunchtime Meet and Greet - Premier Health Marketplace Café, 110 N. Main Street, Dayton – Come have lunch at Premier Health Marketplace Café, meet members of the cast from the Zoot Theatre Company and learn more about the upcoming production of Hansel and Gretel. 

-       February 18, 2014 - 12:00 noon - 1:00 p.m. - Mid-day Arts Café - Mathile Theatre, located in the Schuster Center, One West Second Street, Dayton – For just $12, enjoy a complete box lunch provided by Citilites Restaurant & Bar and an opportunity to hear backstage insights on Hansel and Gretel with Artistic Director Thomas Bankston and Director Gary Briggle.  Mid-day Arts Café Tickets are available by calling Ticket Center Stage at 937-228-3630.

-       February 21, 2014 - 6:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. – University Night at the Opera Pre-show Event – Boston Stoker, 34 West Second Street, Dayton – Students with valid Student ID can enjoy complimentary coffee, and discounted student tickets are available at the Box Office of the Schuster Center.  Learn backstage insights from Dayton Opera Artistic Director Thomas Bankston and meet members of the cast from the Zoot Theatre Company.

-       February 21, 2014 – Hansel and Gretel Encore Event – Special event open to Young Professionals in the Dayton area.  Please call Maeda Thompson at 228-3630 x 3222 to reserve tickets.

-       February 23, 2014 - 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. - Hansel and Gretel Brunch – Crowne Plaza Hotel, 5th and Jefferson Streets, Dayton – Join Opera Guild of Dayton for Sunday Brunch before the matinee performance of Hansel and Gretel.  Take in a spectacular view while enjoying a sumptuous meal before the show.  Hansel and Gretel Brunch Tickets are available by calling 937-224-0800.

-       February 23, 2014 – Hansel and Gretel Culture Works Passport Event – Special event open to Culture Works Passport-to-the-Arts Members.  Show your Culture Works Passport to receive one free ticket for every ticket purchased.  Call (937) 222-ARTS(2787) for more information.

-       February 23, 2014 – Hansel and Gretel Kettering Arts Council Event – Special event open to City of Kettering Residents to receive C-tier tickets for special pricing of $12.  City of Kettering Residents may call Ticket Center Stage at 937-228-3630 or order tickets online at ticketcenterstage.com using the coupon code KAC.

-       February 21, 2014 and February 23, 2014 – Pre-Opera Talks and Opera Bites - Want to learn even more about the wonderful music of this opera? Come one hour prior to both performances to hear the backstory of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel with colorful insight by U.D. Professor Dr. Sam Dorf.  Delicious “Opera bites” are also available in the Wintergarden before the performance and at the first intermission.

Tickets for Hansel and Gretel range from $36 to $92 and are available at www.daytonperformingarts.org or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630. Senior and student discounts are available.

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About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance

The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was formed in July 2012 as the result of a groundbreaking and innovative merger between the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the community, offering a tremendous variety of performance and education programs and setting a new standard for artistic excellence.  Dayton Performing Arts Alliance performances are made possible in part by Montgomery County and Culture Works, the single largest source of community funds for the arts and culture in the Miami Valley. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance also receives partial funding from the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency created to foster and encourage the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio's cultural heritage. Funding from the Ohio Arts Council is an investment of state tax dollars that promotes economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohio residents.   The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is also the proud recipient of a 12-13 season grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Zoot Theatre Company

Zoot Theatre Company was founded by its Artistic Director and Puppet & Mask Designer, D. Tristan Cupp and Michael S. Sticka, Zoot’s Executive Producer. Originally a part of the Victoria Theatre Association’s (VTA) Impact Program, Zoot eventually became the first ever resident company at the VTA’s Mathile Theatre. After having outgrown the Mathile Theatre, Zoot struck a unique and first-of-its-kind partnership with the Dayton Art Institute, and beginning in 2012 held its Inaugural MainStage Season at the Dayton Art Institute’s NCR Renaissance Auditorium. As a result of this move and new partnership, Zoot grew its audience by more than 300% over attendance at every prior production at the Mathile Theatre. Zoot has four main focal points of its Mission: main stage productions; educational programming; touring; and contracted works. The unique style of marrying the visual with the performing arts has positioned Zoot as one of the fastest growing players on the “arts scene” in Ohio.

About Dayton Ballet II

Many of ballet’s most gifted dancers have come up through the ranks of Dayton Ballet II, Dayton Ballet’s pre-professional training and performing company.  Selected by audition, DBII dancers receive their first taste of performing behind the footlights, and with it an opportunity to sharpen technique and gain maturity and discipline that is not available off stage.  Throughout its history, members of DBII have performed both their own programs and with Dayton Ballet.  During Dayton Ballet’s season, students from DBII have the opportunity to perform with the professional company in regular-season performances at both the Victoria Theatre and the Schuster Center.  DBII has also performed with the Dayton Philharmonic, the Dayton Opera, and in their own end-of-year workshop.

About the Kettering Children’s Choir

The Kettering Children's Choir has established a local and national reputation of choral excellence and is one of the largest and most successful children's choral programs in the state of Ohio. It was founded in 1986 and now includes over 200 singers from 9 counties and 30 Miami Valley communities. Singers range in age from 8 to 18 and are admitted to the program by audition. Four of the choirs rehearse weekly at Rosewood Arts Centre in Kettering. Natalie DeHorn is Artistic Director of the Kettering Children’s Choir and Mark Jauss is their Director.

 

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