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BWW Review: Synetic Theater's THE SNOW QUEEN Pays Homage to Other Works

BWW Review: Synetic Theater's THE SNOW QUEEN Pays Homage to Other Works
Acacia Danielson as the Snow Queen
Credit: DJ Corey Photography

Synetic Theater's The Snow Queen feels like a prolonged fever dream brought on by repeated viewings of Disney's Frozen, or its earlier work, Fantasia.

Adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen and then stripped of all dialogue and steeped in the surreal, Synetic's interpretation is vivid and nonsensical. From the first foggy scene, the Snow Queen (Acacia Danielson) embodies the frigid ethos of Frozen's Elsa. Koki Lortkipanidze's score, soaring and emotive, is also deeply reminiscent of Fantasia's preeminent use of music to tell a story.

While similarities to Frozen are expected given the Disney box-office hit is based on Andersen's story, what's less expected is the dedication to flattering other fairytale greats.

The show centers around two Hansel and Gretel types, Gerda (Moira Todd) and Kai (Joshua Cole Lucas), who tangle with the lonely Snow Queen after she kidnaps Kai, sending Gerda on Shrek-like quest to save her love. On her journey she encounters a princess (Irene Hamilton), who draws heavily from Alice in Wonderland's Queen of Hearts. A more subtle influence is Eveline from The Wiz who appears in Maria Simpkins' Little Robber Girl. There's also a Beauty and the Beast-like silver rose that factors heavily in the plot. Midway through the show's 75 minute run, it's clear its strongest moments occur when it is paying homage.

BWW Review: Synetic Theater's THE SNOW QUEEN Pays Homage to Other Works
Ensemble
Credit: DJ Corey Photography

Billed as a family-friendly holiday event, the work is bright and slapstick-funny to appeal to a target audience of grandchildren and visiting cousins. But its twisting plot can be convoluted, as evidenced by the young boy who whispers "what's happening" during a transition. His confusion could be attributed to Synetic's unique style, which uses movement to convey what words usually do. Without any dialogue, The Snow Queen relies on dramatic sighs and exaggerated facial expressions to reveal its twisting tale where love conquers all.

This kind of storytelling is what Synetic is known for and, thankfully, what it's actors do best. Simpkins, in particular, shines in both the ensemble and her supporting roles. Danielson, whose character is usually huffy, maintains a resonate loneliness in her eyes. Todd is also convincing when following an imaginary snow bee around the stage.

BWW Review: Synetic Theater's THE SNOW QUEEN Pays Homage to Other Works
Moira Todd and Joshua Cole Lucas (center) as Gerda and Kai
Credit: DJ Corey Photography

When not reflecting its influences, The Snow Queen shines most originally in its lighting, choreography and costuming. Its actors, though not technically trained, make good use of a series of lifts and jumps -- even a barrel turn -- to add a bit of energy to the work. Stunningly decorated parasails, a beautifully imagined Snow Queen gown and little details like sashes and glitter glow on a stage lit up like a Christmas tree.

A whirl of color and sound, the show's fevered atmosphere leaves audiences wondering after the last bow is taken, did they really did dream the entire thing?


The Snow Queen runs Dec 3rd-29th at Synetic Theater in Arlington, VA. Tickets start at $19 and are available online or at the box office.



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