By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
Damsel in distress? Not quite. You (and your kids) may associate Snow White as a young girl who ends up lost in the woods, poisoned by her evil stepmother, and brought back from a spell by a prince. That story, based on an 1812 Brothers Grimm tale and featured classic Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (can you believe the movie turns 70 years old next year?), is not what you’ll find in Snow White, the current production by NextStop Theatre.
In this version by Kyle Encinas (music and lyrics by Alyssa Wilden) Snow White doesn’t need a hero – she’s somewhat of a heroine herself. As Snow White, actress Emily Marsh injects a good amount of spunk into the character. Our Snow White here is not lost in the traditional sense of the story but knows what she wants – and doesn’t want. The result is a tale about girl power, taking control back, and deciding what role you want to play in life.
Those messages will come across clearly to the adults and even the kids (this is one of NextStop’s family theatre productions). Very young children may wonder why things are different, since this story is a big departure from the Disney film they may most associate with the character. But no worries – that’s where the minstrel comes in. Joshua Redford plays this role as the frustrated, dramatic, and lute-playing storyteller who desperately tries to keep the story on track. Of course, what he thinks is “supposed” to happen often contrasts starkly with what Snow White thinks should happen, and that’s where the fun comes in.
Though he is manipulative, trouble-making, and sometimes mean, the minstrel is not a hated character – on the contrary, Redford plays him with scene-stealing charm. Rounding out the roles are Amber Gibson as the evil queen and stepmother (and also as a dwarf), Mahlon Raoufi as the prince, the huntsman, and a dwarf, and Steven Soto in supporting roles.
And about those dwarves: again, this is a different take on Snow White so you won’t see seven “dwarfs” and they won’t have cute names. They are there to help Snow White, but they do so in a new way – by teaching her kung fu to defend herself, for example. These lessons prove handy when Snow White has a couple of battles of her own. The one-hour show, which starts calmly, ends with a lot of action and energy. In between there are some fun scenes such as watching the evil queen (who is a witch) create magic potions in her lab (this was cleverly done and was of our favorite parts).
The one-hour play, directed by Kristen Pilgrim, moves at a nice pace, and the scenery (from both the props and the lighting) really set the mood of being in a forest. It was an enjoyable show, though I must note that I don’t think our son liked this one as much as previous NextStop kids’ shows. I don’t know if it’s because of his age (he’s almost nine years old so he may be getting to “big” for these) or because he associates the main character too much with fairy tales. Still, I could tell he enjoyed the scenes that involved music, magic, and action. On that note, he brought up a good point: while the dwarves stress at the end that violence is not a solution, it’s because of the battle scenes that Snow White and others are able to free themselves. This irony was not lost on my child. 🙂
Snow White plays on Saturdays and Sundays through April 24, 2016. Tickets are $20 for adults and $16 for children ages 12 and under.