Theater Review: Vampires are fun for adults, tooBy Jim Lowe
Staff Writer | February 18,2013Jim Lowe / Staff photo
Tim Jennings and Leanne Ponder regale a Montpelier audience with their macabre tales.Storytelling is for kids. But it can also be fascinating, as well as richly rewarding for adults — if it’s done by master storytellers and musicians Tim Jennings and Leanne Ponder.
“‘The Vampire Princess’ and Other Eerie Folktales,” Jennings and Ponder’s latest show, opened Thursday at City Hall Arts Centers, with its mostly adult audience asking for more. The 90-minute show combining traditional but macabre stories and folk music, part of Lost Nation Theater’s “Winterfest 2013,” which ran through Sunday.
This new show features the premiere of their “The Vampire Princess,” a juicier version of “The Sleeping Beauty.”
In this riveting, macabre and often very funny tale, the king is terribly worried about his beautiful young daughter who sleeps all day.
It turns out that she’s a vampire — but that’s only the beginning.
Thursday’s performance seemed to keep the audience on the edge of its collective seat, thanks to some theatrically very skilled delivery.
In this well-choreographed performance, Jennings and Ponder each took on different characters, alternating the narrative. Their intimate ensemble work and canny sense of timing resulted in rich entertainment. (They will be recording this for a new CD of eerie tales.)
Interspersed between this and other tales were musical interludes — some involving audience participation — of traditional songs of varying origins.
Jennings is an unusually adept and nuanced concertina player, and is matched by Ponder on Celtic harp in these well-arranged folk songs that mix simple but beautiful music with the ancient tales.
These days, folks forget that “Grimms’ Fairy Tales,” collected and retold by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in their 1812 anthology, were anything but sweet. More importantly, they were not original to the Grimm brothers.
Like all traditional storytellers they were passing on ancient tales retold for countless different generations. The difference was that the Grimms wrote them down.
Jennings and Ponder, central Vermonters who have been touring and regaling audiences for more than a quartet century, are following in this tradition.
They find old tales, either in books or by hearing them, make them their own — and turn them into theater.
While Thursday’s performance wasn’t perfect, it was of an unusually high level, and richly rewarding.
A particularly macabre tale, apparently only for Valentine’s Day, was the Grimm-based “The Juniper Tree.” Despite its hate and lies, a decapitation and cannibalism, it proved not only funny but touching. Such is the skill of Jennings and Ponder.MORE IN Vermont NewsMONTPELIER — An executive with the owner of the mothballed Vermont Yankee nuclear plant sought to... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1843, British Naval officer GEORGE LORD PAULET obtains provisional cession of Hawaiian Islands; 1866, miners claim Calaveras skull found found in goldmine is remains of 5 million-year-old Pliocene man.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day 1739, 'Richard Palmer' identified in prison at York Castle as the notorious outlaw DICK TURPIN; IN 1836, Battle of the Alamo begins near San Antonio de Bexar, Texas; 1896, the Tootsie Roll invented by LEO HIRSCHFELD.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1472, Orkney, Shetland islands put up as collateral by Norway to Scotland in lieu of dowry for MARGARET OF DENMARK on her marriage with JAMES III, king of Scotland; 1962, JOHN GLENN first American to orbit Earth.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City mayoral candidates debate campaign issues; Hartford, Conn., woman still missing; Neal Goswami reports attempts to legislate suicide; local woman loses 100 pounds through TOPS program.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1878, JOHN TUNSTALL murdered near Lincoln, New Mexico, by the outlaw JESSE EVANS; in 1930, ELM FARM OLLIE first cow to fly in aircraft, first to be milked airborne; 1955, nuke test WASP; '79, snow in Sahara.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Rutland Herald News Editor Alan J. Keays and staff writer Gordon Dritschilo discuss stories planned for the February 18, 2015, edition of the newspaper: Winter budgets maxed, legal marijuana, Springfield bank job, USPS slowdown