By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN A fantastical musical experience called “The Brothers Grimm: A Musical Adventure,” was written and composed by Marienne Kreitlow, of Howard Lake, and is being produced by GREAT Theatre in St. Cloud at the Paramount Theatre.
In the musical, something is terribly wrong in Grimmland. There is a jolting patch of blue in the normally pink sky. The Frog Prince is reverting to his slimy frog-like self, Rumpelstiltskin can’t remember his own name, Sleeping Beauty needs frequent naps, Rapunzel is losing her hair, Little Red Riding Hood refuses to wear red, and Gretel has had it with being a little girl.
Some characters have disappeared altogether. Upon examining “The Book,” they see for themselves that their stories and pictures are being erased.
Led by Wolf, Granny, and the Warted and Which Witches, they desperately hope that by re-enacting one story perfectly, the Kingdom of Grimmland will be restored to rightness.
Will it work? Will it happen fast enough? Can humans help them? Will their stories live to be told again and again, forever and ever?
The world premiere of the musicla will take place Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m. It will run through Sunday, May 15 with showtimes at 7 p.m. Fridays, 1 and 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays.
This will be the third musical Kreitlow has written and composed. “Each one is a life’s work. Each musical I produce takes about five years,” she said.
The two other musicals are “Earl Tracey, The Musical,” a historical musical about an eccentric faith healer who lived in Cokato in the early 20th century; and “Excelsius,” about a group of employees trying to save their decrepit building while at the same time saving themselves.
Kreitlow has spent her life writing, composing, and performing her own music from San Fransisco to Boston, and Houston to Minnesota, and has produced several CDs.
She and her husband, Jerry Ford, moved back to Howard Lake about eight years ago to help on the family farm. They are the fourth generation to run the farm.
“I have found a way to continue in theater and theatrical-type events, while farming,” Kreitlow said.
It was when she met her husband, who was the theater technical director and designer at San Jacinto College in Houston, TX, that she began writing and composing musical theater, around 1990.
The idea for “The Brothers Grimm” actually came from one of Ford’s students, Amanda Marks, who had written a short play based on a lesser-known Grimms’ fairy tale, “The Devil’s Three Golden Hairs.”
Kreitlow said she thought it would be fun to make a musical out of the short story, and asked Marks for a copy.
“Although my creation bears little resemblance to Amanda’s, I credit her with bringing my attention to the story so central to this musical,” Kreitlow said.
Ford is the sound designer for “The Brothers Grimm.” After this, he is retiring from theater.
“I feel very fortunate to be working on this as my last show,” Ford said. “Not only will I be working with my wife on my last show, out of all of them that could have ended up being my last, but out of 35 years of theater, I think this is one of the finest shows I have worked on.”
Both Kreitlow and Ford are impressed with GREAT Theatre, an educational theater for children and families using amateur actors, but professional designers for sound and lights.
“I’ve worked with a lot of theater companies over the years. What I like about GREAT Theatre, is that it’s a community theater with professional standards,” Ford said. “That gets community actors wanting to be in the shows, because they know it’s professional. So they show up in droves to audition.”
About 110 people, from the ages of 6 to 60, auditioned for “The Brothers Grimm,” Kreitlow said.