The show must go on. Five minutes into a Saturday matinee performance of the Venture Theatre's children's musical, it was clear something was amiss. There were puzzling silences and the dialogue had an ad-libbed quality. Director Gye di Capua stopped the show; the taped music wasn't working. The cast retired backstage for a fresh start.
The audience was sympathetic; these things happen. They applauded. They waited. And waited. The music started. It stopped. Muffled exclamations were heard. In the audience, the murmurs were growing. Finally, a cast member shouted from offstage, "A cappella! A cappella!"
Di Capua laughed, the audience laughed, and "Hansel and Gretel Say Nope to Dope, The Musical" was enthusiastically under way--a cappella. Ten minutes later, the sound track kicked in.
The shaky start was representative of the play: good-natured but problematic.
Di Capua, who feels that children are getting anti-drug education too late, has aimed his message musical at the 4-to-11 set. In his version of the familiar fairy tale, the only perils Hansel and Gretel face in the woods are drug pushers. Mr. Goody (S. Frank Stringham) sells pills, Mr. Joint (Cody Murphy) sells marijuana and the witch (Mairi Fern Hovis) is pushing cocaine.