THE SNOW QUEEN by Hans Christian Andersen, adapted by Patrick Cardy, directed by Alon Nashman (Theaturtle). At Young Centre (55 Mill). To December 15. $18-$25. 416-866-8666. Rating: NNNN
Storytelling, music and dance have rarely been blended so appealingly for young audiences as in The Snow Queen, based on the Andersen fairy tale about the young Gerda, who risks everything to save her friend Kay from the title character’s wintry embraces.
If you saw it last year, you’ll remember the warmth of director Alon Nashman’s narration as he physically and vocally becomes a dozen characters, from a crow and an old grandmother to a reindeer and a robber queen’s initially selfish daughter.
But Nashman and his associates have reworked and polished the show since that presentation, adding dramatic lustre and further magic. It still uses composer Patrick Cardy’s text and score for strings – here performed by the Tokai String Quartet – and Andrea Lundy’s fine lighting and video design.
Lundy plays with the contrast between light and dark tones, warmth and frost, and her videos of snowy fields and ice crystals suggest the coldness of the northern landscape and the chilliness of the queen’s heart. All the action plays out on Nashman’s set of white cloth, which accentuates all the colours that Lundy shines on it.
As before, the quartet is vital in the storytelling, creating a witch’s scream, a lullaby and a sleigh ride. Its members, violinists Amanda Goodburn and Csaba Koczo, violist Yosef Tamir-Smirnoff and cellist Rafael Hoekman, also morph into characters from the story; narrator and string players sometimes engage in striking dialogue, one using words and the other musical notes.
The major addition is a separate character for the Snow Queen herself, danced by Kate Alton to Claudia Moore’s choreography. Alton doesn’t have much stage time, but her mostly frantic and jerky motions suggest the character’s desires and intensity. Looks like several white shag rugs gave their lives for her costume; I wish the dress suggested the sparkle of a snowy moonlit night.
The Snow Queen is enchanting family theatre, a classic story retold with a striking theatrical touch.