Fairy tales collide in Farmington school’s original play

Imagine what would happen if the witch in the “Hansel & Gretel” fairy tale also became the grandmother in “Little Red Riding Hood”.

Five students enrolled in The Blau Project, a Farmington-based private school, have set up that scenario in “Happily Ever After,” an original play they’ll perform at 10 a.m. on June 10, at the Farmington Civic Theater. Founder and head of school Cheryl Blau said some of her students have theater experience and wanted to perform.

Maria Taylor David Delind Johnna Balk Farmington City Council

But along with stagecraft, they also learned about managing conflict and how to work as a team to create something from nothing.

Blau Project students
From left, Addison Tacey, Siena Spitzig, Evelyn Tolonen, Ryan Steele, and Matthew Dwyer attend The Blau Project school in Farmington.

Students Evelyn Tolonen, 14, Addison Tacey, 13, Siena Spitzig, 13, Matthew Dwyer, 12, and Ryan Steele, 13, started with a conversation.

“We just sat down and started brainstorming like a board meeting,” Steele said. “Siena had the idea for fairytales.”

Students scrapped an initial plan to do “Rapunzel” (too few characters) and “Ratatouille” (too complex), but stuck with the fairy tale theme.

“We couldn’t come to an agreement on a fairy tale,” Spitzig said. “Matthew had the idea of merging two.”

The Blau Project play
From left: Matthew Dwyer, Ryan Steele, Siena Spitzig, Addison Tacey, and Evelyn Tolonen rehearse in teacher Cheryl Blau’s living room.

Blau said the group resolved differences of opinion and “learned, in the course of discourse, how to tolerate dissonance. In the end, we’re all friends.”

Once they had a story, students worked on costumes and props, including a “jail” for Hansel and Gretel made of PVC pipe and wood, and a knife crafted from cardboard and duct tape. Late last week, they lugged set pieces into the Farmington Civic Theater.

The Blau Project play
Students carried set pieces for their play from The Blau Project to the Farmington Civic Theater. (contributed)

The story opens with Hansel and Gretel (Dwyer and Spitzig) getting lost in the woods and meeting up with Little Red Riding Hood or “Little Red” (Tolonen). The group lands in the house of the witch (Tacey) who is also Little Red’s grandmother. Of course, the wolf, “Sir Fluffy” (Steele), makes an appearance, with a top hat and cane, as grandmother’s “associate”.

Tolonen said her character starts off on the “bad” side, but ends up helping the good guys. She’s also vegan, which sets up one of the show’s many jokes.

The students agree there’s no real moral to the tale, but it does impart some lessons, like “don’t judge a book by its cover” and “don’t trust wolves.”

“It’s just a fun thing to watch,” Tacey said.

The Blau Project play
Students crafted a “cell” for Hansel and Gretel from PVC pipe and wood, and created the lock with boxes and duct tape.

Everyone is welcome to attend the play. While there’s no admission charge, students are collecting donations that will go to Water for South Sudan. They learned about the charity while reading books about refugees, including A Long Walk to Water, based on the true story of Salva Dut.

One of 3,800 “Lost Boys” who came to the U.S. in the 1990s, Dut eventually returned to his homeland and created the charity to install wells that provide villages with clean water.

To learn more about The Blau Project, write to theblauproject@gmail.com.

Reported by