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Friday the 13th brought the premier of Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel (sung in English by Lyric Opera San Diego) to the Birch North Park Theatre. It was an entertaining performance even in the absence of a murderous Freddie Kruger patrolling the stage for blood and scream.

J. Sherwood Montgomery's small-scale production manned by mostly local artists left no inch of the auditorium untouched in his effort to involve the audience. While the youthful voices of Hai-Ting Chinn (Hansel) and Kate Oberjat (Gretel) enchanted us from various parts of the stage, Scott Gregory's Father got to show off his powerful voice from both sides of the orchestra pit. Pamela Porter Arnold was vocally shaky but a dramatically apt Mother.

The musical highlight was the “Evening Prayer,” beautifully delivered by Chinn and Oberjat, whose sibling chemistry was manifested in the blending of their voices.

The crowd's favorite at the curtain was Leon Natker's culinary-frustrated and manly voiced witch, who ended the show on the wrong side of the oven. The LOSD's general director not only paced the stage in full drag but also flew back and forth over it while singing his witchly tune, much to the audience's delight.

Concert: Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel
Show date: November 13, 2009
Venue: Birch North Park Theater
Seat: S20

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