We begin in the family’s poor cottage, where Hansel, Gretel and their father ponder the possibility of soon running out of food! Their stepmother, on the other hand, can only moan that she needs a new fur coat, which she could have had if she’d done as her mother advised and married the wealthy Herbert Goldsworthy when she had the chance! (song – A Sorry Situation) When the children go to bed, she reveals to her husband a dastardly plan to take them deep into the forest and abandon them! (song – What A Wicked Woman) Having overheard this plan, as they are led far from the cottage the next day, Hansel and Gretel leave a trail of breadcrumbs which they intend to follow back home.
Tired from their long walk and now abandoned in the forest, the two children fall asleep. As they doze, a flock of hungry birds enters. They complain about the lack of worms, the meagre titbits being left by humans these days and how their only opportunity for a feed might be to ambush a squirrel! (song – Those Good Old Days) Noticing the breadcrumbs, however, they eat their fill, leaving the children no way of finding their way home!
Next, Hansel and Gretel run into a bungling gang of robbers (song – Robbers’ Tango), who spot the opportunity to kidnap the children and ransom them for cash! However, their wits are no match for Gretel’s, as she and her brother make a comical escape. They run deeper into the forest, where things get a little creepier and talking trees warn them that ‘this is no place for children!’ (song – This Bad, Bad Place)
Finally, exhausted and hungry, the children stumble across an enchanting cottage (song – The Gingerbread House), built from every delicious confectionery imaginable. Encouraged by a curious group of goblins, they eat their fill. They are then introduced to the owner of the cottage; a little old woman who is very welcoming, asking them to stay, rest and eat as much as they can! However, she soon shows her true colours. Hansel is imprisoned while Gretel must force-feed him in order to, as the old woman puts it, ‘fatten him up’ for the pot! (song – Better Than One Is Two)
As the wicked old crone makes final preparations for her special meal (song – Dinner At The Double), it’s down to the brave Gretel to once again save the day. Using her cunning and daring, she literally ‘closes the lid’ on the old woman’s dining plans and escapes with Hansel! After a joyful reunion with their father, the children deservedly celebrate with the biggest and tastiest party ever! (song – Finale)