Perishable Props

Peek into the Met prop shops, where a team of theatrical wizards prepares a delectable spread of treats for Richard Jones’s production of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. By Christopher Browner

The sight of a child-gobbling witch in her oversized gingerbread house is a classic of fairy-tale lore, but in Richard Jones’s whimsical reimagining of Hansel and Gretel, the nasty Rosina Lickspittle instead traps the title youngsters in a cavernous industrial kitchen. To add to the frenzy, the props department fills the scene with a veritable feast of tasty treats. “This is by far the most real food we have in any production at the Met,” says former Met Properties Master James Blumenfeld. “There are about a dozen platters of cookies and cakes, plus bags of cocoa powder and flour, and even some strawberry milk.”

Most of these edible props come from Rockland Bakery in Nanuet, New York, but the props team also works in a small backstage kitchen to cook up some special desserts just for the production. “There’s a big cake that the kids push the witch’s face into,” Blumenfeld explains. “We bake an angel-food cake, cut out the inside, and then fill it up with a lot of whipped cream. We also make a fun three-tier Jello mold that gets decorated with lots of candy and whipped cream.”

By the end of the night, though, none of these mouthwatering morsels remains intact. Hansel and Gretel dive into the spread and have an all-out food fight. Blumenfeld laughs: “It takes my guys half an hour to clean that set.”


Christopher Browner is the Met’s Associate Editor.