BWW Review: CTC'S Imaginative Fairy Tale SNOW WHITE Charms Audiences
"Lips as red as blood. Hair as black as tree bark. Heart as pure as driven snow." These vivid characteristics describe the famous princess Snow White. In an innovative retelling of Snow White from Children's Theatre Company (CTC) adapted and directed by Britian's Greg Banks, this Snow White follows more closely the original Grimm Brothers version as opposed to the Walt Disney animated story people have known, or grown to know from film.. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" became the company's first animated film in 1937, a huge accomplishment. How has the culture and social fiber changed since the 1930's and what does CTC's fairy tale Snow White say to audiences today?
In Banks' Snow White, a fairy tale duet, Joy Dolo and Dean Holt play every character in the often beloved and familiar story. These two actors form a winning on stage relationship where each actor switches characters, sometimes literally at the turn of a hat. When Holt needs to play seven-yes, each of the seven dwarfs-a turn of his hat and a voice transformation create a merry melange of these tiny men. The remarkable feat adds realistic magic to this enchanted tale.
Equally remarkable, Dolo slips on an apron or a lace cape to either be the beautiful maiden with a heart of driven snow or the jealous Queen Mother, mean witch and also a slew of dwarfs in one scene. Costume Designer Annie Cady created these lightning quick transformations with ingenuity and playful touches, which represents a major theme in what Banks' production portrays.
This play within a play posits Dolo and Holt waiting for more actors to arrive, and none ever show to the theater's stage. The two decide to tell the story themselves, asking the audience's permission before moving on to their play-and there's plenty of audience participation the entire performance.Young people in the audience delight with every knock-knock joke told by Dwarf Four and Five (These dwarfs have numbers instead of names.) One five year old girl in the audience claimed she enjoyed the knock-knock jokes as her favorite, personal part of the performance.
The tree in the dark forest along with the branches represent "witches' arms and fingers" to create perfect backdrop for the fairy tale action. Scenic Designer Mikail Kachman also planned a "tree house" space amid the branches where Music Director and Composer Victor Zupanc plays from his numerous instruments. Zupanc created the original score and complimented the action superbly, adding dimension and transitions from the character changes while the music features two or three original songs.
In the intimate Cargill Theater, Snow White and her seven dwarfs survive, thrive and enchant audiences of every age. While created for younger theater-goers, every heart and soul age will appreciate this entertaining and hilarious interpretation commissioned by CTC and interpreted by Banks. This version illustrates a princess portrait that includes the notion that princesses might be over protected and sheltered, or bored, with little to do because their staff does everything for them. Princes, to quote Stephen Sondheim from his famous Into the Woods might be "raised to be charming instead of sincere," and have other ideas for Princesse that they need to ponder for themselves---Sharing with friends could be more fulfilling than living in a palace.
With the barrage of media attention, perhaps biased and unwanted, written on true life princes and princesses of every age, the actual day to day lives these royalty confront presents the darker side of fame and, over time, on the fairy tale ending.
Perhaps CTC'S reimagining of Snow White presents a viable alternative to the Disney version, as the Grimm Brothers collected the various folklore and oral stories passed down through tradition, which were often more grim than those culture knows today. Banks' Snow White character neither cleans nor cooks, the dwarfs and her share chores. There's a crystal coffin and sleeping princess who wishes for what her grown up, adult world might hold for her seven years after her encounter with the evil witch--on her choices and terms.
What imaginative fun and unbelievable performances from Dolo, Holt and Zupanc. Be utterly charmed and inspired by this new interpretation from CTC. Yes, fairy tales counteract children's and often adults, deepest human fears, and then offer hope and humor in the world they ultimately live in and wish to transform.
Children's Theatre Company presents the premiere of SNOW WHTIE in the Cargill Theater through December 8. For information on the 2019-2020 season, or the tickets to the performance, please visit: www.childrenstheatre.org.