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‘GRIMMZ’ returns to CTC with re-imagining fairy tales with hip-hop
Back after pandemic-induced postponement
Published Tuesday, December 29, 2020 4:30 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

“GRIMMZ,” a hip-hop re-telling of classic children’s tales, returns to Children’s Theatre of Charlotte through Broadway on Demand.

Hip-hop returns to center stage at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.  

CTC kicked off its 73rd season in December with “The Velveteen Rabbit” and preparing for “GRIMMZ Fairy Tales,” the second of their four-show season.

CTC’s virtual season includes performances by actors from the theatre’s resident touring company. Shows are professionally filmed and available to viewers through Broadway On Demand’s streaming service. Viewers have the choice between purchasing tickets to the entire season, or to a specific show. Digital content regarding cast and creative team bios, as well as behind the scenes content is also part of the virtual season.

“GRIMMZ” spins classic fairytales to hip-hop and is intended for children age seven and up. It was co-created by actors Ron Lee McGill and Rahsheem Shabazz and director Christopher Parks, who began working on the concept in 2018. Shabazz and McGill respectively play hip-hop stars Jay and Will Grimmz.  

The Granny — not Grammy —Award is the coveted prize in this world, of which the duo have nine and one Great Granny award. Instead of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” it is “Snow White and Seven Shawties.” A similar twist extends to “Down with Rapunzel,” “Hanzel & Gretel: Lost in the Hood” and “Break, Cinderella, Break!”

“With hip-hop, the genre cannot be a monolith into, ‘hey, this isn’t for kids’ ears,’ because these are rhymes we are talking about,” McGill said. “They are nursery rhymes that have grown into this complex genre, and yes, this was bred off of misfortune in a lot of ways, which is where this music comes from, but through that it is once again going back to that beauty in the midst of misfortune. These are grim situations, grim stories with crazy, insurmountable odds, but there is a beauty in that, too.

“I really hope that we continue to work toward having this subject matter explained in such a way to let kids know that, ‘hey, this stuff happens, but you are surrounded by love—there are good things in the world.’ That is a truth that I continuously want to pursue in this work that we do.”

“GRIMMZ” originally premiered at CTC earlier this year, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We were just about to walk into sold out performances, an extended week by popular demand, and right as that Friday was coming of those sold out performances, they were like, ‘we are going to postpone until Monday. We are going to postpone until Friday. We are never coming back,’” Parks said. “We were thrilled to be able to come back.”

The world has changed since “GRIMMZ” first took the stage. The pandemic still encompasses the planet. Civil unrest spread across the nation as the ramifications of systemic racism became impossible to ignore and renewed cries of “Black Lives Matter” rang out.

“When it all came down to it, we determined that the subject matter itself deserved an amount of respect and attention that may have been too large for what we needed to do in this space right here,” McGill said.

For McGill and Shabazz, the mission is for children of color to see themselves in theater.

“In these times, and I was feeling this way before the pandemic and before the protests, about how it important it is for our representation to be into play, and how important it is for our authenticity to be into play,” McGill said.

Shabazz recalled going to see “The Lion King” in the 1990s, and how seeing someone on stage who looked like him provided hope for what he could pursue.

“To be honest, I think that is what people are looking for—hope,” Shabazz said.


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