Here come the elves

Published 10:37 am Thursday, February 5, 2009

The brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm were German academics who were best known for publishing collections of folk and fairy tales. They are among the best-known storytellers of such tales as Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel.

This weekend, Matchbox Children’s Theatre will bring another Brothers Grimm classic fairytale to life on the Paramount Theatre stage.

Performances of “The Elves and the Shoemaker” are scheduled 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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Based on the story by the Brothers Grimm, the play was adapted by Lori Phillips-Young and produced by special arrangement with Eldridge Plays and Musicals.

Leland Bissinger and Heather Niebuhr are co-directing the play.

Bissinger said the “slightly fractured” fairy tale was what attracted him to it two years ago.

The Matchbox Children’s Theatre committee of play readers agreed and now it is being presented.

“If audiences like slapstick comedy, they will enjoy this play,” the director said.

This is the second Children’s Matchbox Theatre play which Bissinger has directed. He has co-directed another.

The play features the character of Jacob Grimm portrayed by Dr. Peter Green, an Austin dentist.

After a bit of protesting, he becomes captivated by this quirky version of his famous tale and makes a journey back in time escorted by elves to “correct” the original story.

Times are hard for Hans the Shoemaker portrayed by Cameron Davis and his wife, portrayed by Ruth Lumley, making her stage debut, plus their family with just enough leather to make one pair of shoes.

In the nick of time, seven zany elves get lost and wander into his shop. Trina, the delightfully confused family dog, “woofs” her commentary on the madcap mayhem caused by the elves.

Audiences will have to wait until the weekend’s show times to learn how the tale comes out.

Bissinger said there are 16 parts to the Matchbox Children’s Theatre production, and he praised his co-director, Niebuhr, the Austin High School drama coach, for her expertise in putting the actors through their paces in rehearsal.

Student tickets 14 years and under are $4. Adult tickets are $6.

For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, visit the Paramount Theatre box office 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday and Friday or call 507 4334-0934.

Coming next will be the Matchbox Children’s Theatre spring production “Sleeping Beauty.”