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Chelsea Maroney as Hansel, Katrina Cox as Gretel, Anne Utterback as the Lizard, Sarah Walker as the Owl, Sarah Gerloff as the Wolf.
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WIU's Opera Theatre Presents "Hansel and Gretel" May 2-3

April 25, 2008

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MACOMB, IL - - Frightening forests, wicked witches and haunting melodies await audience members at the 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, May 2-3 performances of "Hansel and Gretel" by the Western Illinois University Opera Theatre in the Hainline Theatre.

Based on the popular Grimm's fairy tale, this "Hansel and Gretel" opera was originally composed by Engelbert Humperdinck, with the text (libretto) by his sister, as an entertainment for his family, according to Rebecca Abram Kreider, who is director of Western's Opera Theatre and director of "Hansel and Gretel."

"When the opera premiered in 1893, Richard Strauss praised it as 'a masterpiece.' 'Hansel and Gretel' became an instant success and has continued to delight audiences of all ages to this day," Kreider added.

Western Illinois University's Opera Theatre production will include the talents of the University Orchestra, conducted by Richard Hughey, director of orchestral activities in Western's School of Music; the University Dance Theatre, with ballet choreographer Denise Brakefield, a ballet instructor in the theatre and dance department; and voice majors from Western's Opera Theatre.

During intermission, Macomb's own Johanna Rosson, nationally known for her gingerbread house creations and for appearing on the gingerbread "Throwdown! with Bobby Flay" on Food Network, will raffle off her own replica of the "Hansel and Gretel" stage set to benefit the WIU Opera Theatre.

Cast members include, by hometown:
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS - - Chelsea Maroney, junior, music education-choral major and music-applied vocal performance major
MACOMB - - Daniel Brakefield, freshman, music education-choral major; Matt Brown, first-year graduate student, music education major; Dan Reem, senior, music business major; and Bethany Worrell, senior, music-applied vocal performance major.
QUINCY - - Lacey Phillips, third-year vocal performance graduate student
ROCKFORD - - Rachael Johnson, senior music therapy major
ROCK ISLAND - - Sarah Walker, senior music business major
ROUND LAKE - - Katrina Cox, senior music education-choral major
HILLSBORO, MO - - Annie Neavill, a first-year MFA student in choral conducting
RAYMOND, MS - - David Sather-Smith, senior, music-applied vocal performance major

Performing the forest animals and trolls are:
AURORA - - Anne Utterback, junior, music education-choral major
CHICAGO - - Katie Gansel, freshman, music and art majors
PAW PAW - - Lynn Aska, senior, music education-choral major
ROCKTON - - Hilliary Oster, senior, music education-choral major
VERNON HILLS - - Kelsey Peterson, junior, music business major
WOODSTOCK - - Sarah Gerloff, junior, music-applied vocal performance major

Dancing the angel ballet are:
ADAIR - - Alicia Wester, office support specialist, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Office
CHATHAM - - Allison Snow, junior, management major, dance minor
CHICAGO - - Allison Greene, freshman, general studies, dance minor
DIXON - - Andra Meiners, freshman, art major
HANOVER - - Keri Dahm, freshman, psychology major, dance minor
JOLIET - - Shatara Jeffries, senior, psychology major, dance minor
LINCOLN - - Kelly Lohrenz, sophomore, musical theatre major
QUINCY - - Kelsey Reed, sophomore, communication major, dance minor
PITTSFIELD - - Ashley Adams-Cross, junior, kinesiology major, dance minor

Children dancing the angel ballet include: Bella Blankenship, Caitlin Laverdiere, Nikki Schmidt, Edie Wester, Margot Wester, Emma Wohlstadter and Isabel Wohlstadter. Six-year-old Eva Molina will make a special appearance as the Witch's little victim.

The Gingerbread Chorus is an auditioned chorus from Macomb's sixth through eighth graders. Chorus members include Lara Anderson, Tia Awumbang, Meredith Chatfield, Chelsea Connelly, Allison Cumbie, Abby Dace, Cassidy Depoy, Michelle Kenny, Natalie Kirwan, Ally Kreider, Jenna Kreider, Michelle Liu, Maggie McGowan, Audrey Meixner, Gracie Merrett, Ian Molina, Emma Shouse, Carolee Stark and Jessica Thurman.

The full-scale production will include costumes by the Utah Opera, Western's theatre and dance faculty assistant Bonnie Jacobs and senior Board of Trustees Bachelor of Arts degree program major and theatre minor Justin Collings (Mendota, IL); set design by second-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) student Anthony Luetkenhaus; and lighting design by second-year MFA student Jennifer Sansfacon (Florence, KY).

Tickets - - $10 for the public and $8 for seniors and students - - are available at the Hainline Theatre Box Office, located on Western Avenue, from noon-5 p.m. weekdays, telephone 309/298-2900. A $1 service fee is added to tickets purchased by phone or in-person.

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