Sept. 29: Four Performances

Hansel and Gretel, for Community and Across Cultures

Oshman Family JCC
By Mark MacNamara

hansel and gretelSunday, Sept. 29, Hansel and Gretel, at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto. The show features classical music with a 12-piece orchestra, conducted by Ming Luke, dancers from the Firebird Theater, and multimedia visuals. Four 45-minute performances, starting at 10:30 a.m. in English, Russian, Mandarin, and Hebrew.

This is the latest in a series of narrated fairy tales conceived by Ronit Waldman-Levy, who also produced it. Levy is otherwise known as a world-class soprano who made her debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 2005 and has gone on to perform regularly with that orchestra, as well as with the Chicago Symphony, New World Symphony, and Boston Symphony Orchestra, among others.

“The idea,” says Levy, “is to introduce the community to the kind of high quality performances that ordinarily you could only find in places like Davies Hall. We also want want to honor the diversity of this community, with narrations done in different languages.”

Having worked with Ming Luke, Levy was able to draw him to the project. In the last year alone Luke has worked with ensembles in Moscow, London, Vienna, Salzburg, the Czech Republic, and the U.S. He’s also conducted the San Francisco Ballet, Opera San Jose, Sacramento Opera, the Napa Regional Dance Company, and the Sacramento Philharmonic. Recently, he was named music director of Symphony Napa Valley.

This upbeat version of the story is recommended for children ages 2 and up. There will be various pre- and post-performance activities, including an instrument ‘petting zoo,’ a dance demonstration, and cookie decoration.

“We always look forward to having the entire community here,” noted Levy. “We are the JCC for the entire community.”

Hansel and Gretel plays in the Schultz Cultural Arts Hall. Online tickets are $15 for Palo Alto JCC members, students, and children ages 14 and under; $18 for non-members; $20 at the door. More information on Hansel and Gretel.

Mark MacNamara (macnamband.com) is a journalist in San Francisco who has written for such publications as Salon.com, Vanity Fair, and The Stanford Social Innovation Review. He also wrote a recent piece for Nautilus, a science magazine, about Edward Elgar’s penchant for ciphers and riddles.