The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon: an unconventional and modern approach to classic fairy tales

UW-Eau Claire Players perform a comedic rendition of the 209 traditional Brothers Grimm stories


Photo by Kelsey O’Connor

Narrators broke into a game show to determine who turned actor Tyler Kadlec into a talking fish during The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon Saturday night.

The crowd quietly shuffled into the Riverside Theatre this past Saturday night, and an excited buzz of voices echoed throughout the room. The lights dimmed, and two charismatic characters bounced onto the stage to introduce the show.

Within seconds, narrator two, played by Danny McDonnell, flew off topic, spewing to the audience a tale of dragon-slaying and bone-crushing, mud-wrestling death matches between princesses. Quickly, narrator one, played by Olivia Haven, stepped in to stop the ridiculousness. She informed the audience the cast would be performing all 209 Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales in one performance; this was the Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon.

The modern, fast-paced, sarcastic and outrageous performance put on by the UW-Eau Claire Players never lost its tempo as the night rolled on. Characters stopped the play to write their own tales, argued with the directors and mockingly teased audience members. Laughter filled the theatre as Rapunzel questioned the authenticity of love at first sight and Snow White argued against her role as a maid for the dwarves.

Samantha and Jane Abraham attended the show to watch family member Ali Abraham perform as the Enchantress in the production. While they admitted to being a little biased about their favorite character, they also said they enjoyed the show overall.

“It’s very light,” said Jane. “It’s fast-paced, but there are a lot of laughs.”

Samantha, an Eau Claire alumna said she would recommend the show to anyone.

“It’s fun because it doesn’t matter how old or far removed I am from it (Eau Claire theatre), it’s still the same feel,” Samantha said. “It’s the same feel as when my dad was in plays here and was helping with production. It doesn’t really matter who it is, but they keep the same tradition going on.”

Director Kelsie Balon explained the Players’ executive board works to determine what show will be chosen each semester. After the show is chosen, they work to get the rights for the show. This semester they wanted to choose a show with a lot of characters with a variety of technical roles in order to get the most people involved.

“We actually broke the tech roles down into teams,” said Balon. “Usually you have a set designer, you have a lighting designer, you have a costume designer, you have a director. We tried to break it into teams to get more people involved, so there were three of us who directed, there were two light designers. A set designer and a technical director worked simultaneously to build the stage.”

Because this was not a main stage production, the students involved in The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon did not receive any college credits for their performance. Instead, they worked countless hours for their own enjoyment.

“Any theatre production that you do is a lot of time and effort that you put into it,” Balon said. “But I get the chance to work with a phenomenal group of people and everyone was there and fully committed and willing to do what was necessary to make the production work.”