Congratulations to the CAST & CREW of GRIMM!
for 2 LA WEEKLY 2001 AWARDS!
Bruno Oliver - One-Act Performance, Male
John Rosenfeld - One-Act Performance, Male

4 LA WEEKLY AWARD 2001 Nominations for
"Godfather Death" in
Ben Davis, Director - Haynes Brooke, Writer
Bruno Oliver, Actor - John Rosenfeld, Actor

Congratulations to JOHN ROSENFELD for
a GARLAND AWARD 2001 Honorable Mention

"Wonderful performances, lyrical writing,  lively choreography...wonderful musical accompaniment...alluring and captivating!"
- Backstage West CRITICS PICK!

"Intoxicating..." - L.A. Weekly

"The Fools have done it again!" - L.A. Actorsite

A World Premiere Evening of Original Adaptations
based on the REAL Stories of The Brothers Grimm!
Developed & Produced by Stephanie Bell & George Larkin
Music Composed & Conducted by Brenda Varda

Come see a Toad!

And The Moon, A Fisherman, 
Snow White, Cinderella, Death, God, 
The Devil, A Jew, A Thumb, A Princess, 
A Cat, A Mouse, A Little Girl So Obnoxious 
That God Himself Decides To Kill Her, A King, 
Seven Dwarves To Die A Terrible Death,


Two Brothers Who Fight Over 
A Ridiculously Large Turnip.

On Dark Nights at Sacred Fools...
January 30th - February 21st, 2001
Tuesdays & Wednesdays
@ 8pm -- Tickets: $10  
Reservations: (310) 281-8337  
Purchase Tickets Online!
  Click here to guarantee your tickets online!

GRIMM FOR KIDS!  May 9-10 @ 4pm

The Players...

Mikhail Blokh, Kirstin Burbank, Tara-Beth Conolly, Erynn Dalton, Zachary Eisenberg, Laura Esposito, Bil Garrity, Richard Gustafson, Jay Harik, Crystal Keith, Corey Klemow, Marius Mazmanian, Bruno Oliver, John Rosenfeld, Atim Udoffia, John Douglas Williams and John Wuchte

(Click on thumbnail for larger picture)

The Musicians...
Stephanie Bell on Flute
Lisa Grant on Clarinet
Beth Kirkpatrick on Oboe
Michael Rainey on Cello
Brenda Varda on Keyboards

The Stories...
"All About Grimm"
Written by George Larkin
Directed by Alexander Yannis Stephano

"The Fisherman and his Wife"
Written by Joe Jordan
Directed by Shirley Anderson
"Godfather Death"
Written by Haynes Brooke
Directed by Ben Davis
"The Jew Among Thorns"
Written by Michael Farkash
Directed by Sam Toffler
"The Turnip"
Written by Ruth Silveira
Directed by Denise Barnard
"A Thing Called Moon"
Written by Brenda Varda
Directed by Mark T.J. Lifrieri
"Old Man & His Grandson"
Written by Erik Atwell
Directed by Aaron Francis
"Tales about Toads"
Written by Scott Stein
Directed by Padraic Duffy
"The Willful Child"
Written by Joe Seely
Directed by Paul Plunkett
"The Riddling Tale"
Written & Directed by
 Dean Cameron
"The Cat and Mouse
 in Partnership"
Written by Joshua Rebell
Directed by Jessica Schroeder



Sure, we all know the stories of Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella, but what about Godfather Death and The Jew Among the Thorns? The stories in Grimm! are not sanitized Disney versions of well-trodden fairy tales. They are nine delightful, obscure, at times funny, at times disturbing, original Grimms' tales, unearthed from the archives of the German brothers' writings and richly adapted to the stage by the Sacred Fools Theater Company.

What I must applaud most about the play (although there were many wonderful performances, lyrical writing, and lively choreography) is the original music. I was struck by how much the scoring, performed by an orchestra of six, enhanced the performances and the overall feeling of the play. Brenda Varda's original compositions add dramatic tension, playful comedic tones, and a counterpoint to the action. I loved the use of the cello, for example, in The Old Man and His Grandson, in which it accentuates the movements of the old man's unsteady hand. Varda also adapted A Thing Called Moon, a beautiful tale about four travelers who steal the moon. It is the only tale that is sung (with a lovely lead vocal by Atim Udoffia).

The introduction, written by George Larkin, gives a historical context for the Grimm brothers and is performed playfully, if teetering over the top, by Dean Jacobson. A light-hearted first act brings us the humorous story of a rich brother and a poor brother whose fates turn on the comings and goings of a giant turnip (Tara-Beth Conolly). I also enjoyed The Cat and Mouse in Partnership, with Kirstin Burbank as the sexy but gullible mouse and Bil Garrity as the naughty kitty. John Wuchte was also a delight as the Flounder (aka an enchanted prince) in The Fisherman and His Wife. The tone of the second half is decidedly more serious, with the first piece, The Jew Among the Thorns, reminding us that the Grimms' tales are not always politically correct and can indeed be shocking to a modern audience. The only tale that didn't move me in some way was Tales About Toads; this appeared to be a hodgepodge of different stories, and I generally had the feeling that I was missing the point.

Written by Haynes Brooke, directed by Ben Davis, and choreographed by Brian Frett , the finale, Godfather Death, has the largest cast and the highest production value, and it is suitably enchanting and spooky. The charm in this production of lesser-known Grimms' fairy tales has not only to do with a talented ensemble cast and, as I mentioned, wonderful musical accompaniment, but with stories that are inherently alluring and captivating.

-- Angela Phipps Towle


GRIMM! is a two-act staging of selected works from the Brothers Grimm. The Sacred Fools company scores points just for mounting a show in which 10 different directors and writers take dramaturgical risks — whether it be working with a story bereft of any clear ending (and for that matter, moral) or taking more traditionally structured stories into new terrain. But aside from the project’s novelty, most of the playlets also work well. “The Cat & Mouse in Partnership” is a tale of two rivals learning to live with each other, which director Jessica Schroeder and adapter Joshua Rebell turn into a blues-scored commentary on modern relationships. “A Thing Called Moon,” about a group of travelers stealing Luna, is told through a performance dance piece adapted into song by Brenda Varda and directed by Mark T.J. Lifrieri. Ben Davis stages the evening’s intoxicating, supernatural closer, “Godfather Death” — adapted by Haynes Brooke and creatively staged. John Rosenfeld as Death keeps the piece grounded with his compassionate portrayal of the Reaper. Though some of the pieces feel underrehearsed, the evening engages, aided by live music composed and directed by Varda.

-- Luis Reyes


Way back in the 18th century, long before the invention of the "happy ending," brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected folk tales for children that often doubled as lessons in morality -- with dark themes that can seem startling to a modern audience.

Snow White and Cinderella can thank the Grimms for making them household names, but the prolific brothers also published a number of tales which the hand of time has not been as kind to. Nine of those lesser-known stories have been adapted for the stage for the Sacred Fools' Grimm!

The evening begins with a spoken/sung introduction by keyboardist Brenda Varda, whose small orchestra provides wonderful accompaniment throughout the show. (Varda also composed all of the program's music.)

"The Fisherman and His Wife" is the first of the stories, with a hysterically funny John Wuchte as an enchanted flounder who can grant wishes, and Jay Harik as a fisherman whose wife just can't get enough of the fish's magic.

In "The Willful Child," the versatile Bruno Oliver makes the first of several appearances, here as the somber narrator of a tale in which a little girl (Laura Esposito) dies and is buried -- only to have her arm keep reaching up through the ground. Her mother (Tara-Beth Conolly) provides the surprisingly simple solution: Whack it off with a stick. The playlet makes clear that not all of the Grimm's stories have a clear "moral" attached to them (a criticism leveled against them when they were first published).

"The Cat and Mouse in Partnership" is a clever adaptation of a tale in which a feline and rodent
(Bil Garrity and Kirstin Burbank)scheme a way to store away some food -- but the cat gets hungry and decides to dip into the supply. The cat and mouse are portrayed as a young cohabitating couple, dealing with issues of trust. Garrity's cat-like movements are particularly amusing.

The short & sweet "The Old Man and His Grandson," is the only story I was previously familiar with. Author Erik Atwell's twist at the end defines the term "comedy."

"The Turnip" is an epic of sorts, in which Mikhail Blokh is a poor man who grows an extraordinary vegetable -- and receives a great reward from the king (Jay Harik). The extraordinary Bruno Oliver is his rich brother who hatches a plan to get even.

Blokh returns in "The Jew Among the Thorns" as a man who discovers an enchanted creature (Laura Esposito) who gives him a violin with magical powers. As the title implies, the piece is ultra-un-P.C., but it's an example of the kinds of prejudices that were prevalent in less enlightened times.

"A Thing Called Moon" is a beautiful musical/dance piece written by Brenda Varda, about stealing the moon. The bizarre "Tales About Toads" has Erynn Dalton as a little girl and Laura Esposito performing a charmingly funny toad puppet who's trying to get her to eat... or... something like that. Perhaps something has been lost in the translation (or maybe LSD has been around a lot longer than previously thought), but it's still funny even if it doesn't make much sense.

"Godfather Death" is the ominous closer, in which John Williams plays a father who is looking for a godfather for his newborn son. He encounters God and the Devil, but decides on Death (a positively creepy John Rosenfeld). I'm not sure which is more disturbing: Rosenfeld's portrayal of the Grim Reaper, or the fact that this ultra-macabre story comes from a collection titled Nursery and Household Tales.

The Fools have done it again. Check it out -- and maybe have a nightlight ready for sleeping afterward.

-- Kevin Delaney