Erie Playhouse pleases with ‘Snow Queen’ production


“The Snow Queen,” a fairy tale written by author Hans Christian Andersen, took the Erie Playhouse stage Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
This adventurous tale, told through the performance of Erie’s finest young actors from the Erie Playhouse Youtheatre, easily warmed my heart in this cold winter season.
When I saw the word “Queen,” embedded in the title of the play, I automatically expected a magical experience ending with that enchanted, feel-good mood you get after you watch a Disney movie.
The production was far from disappointing, but this was definitely no Disney movie.
This classic story was brought to life with the use of stunning young voices, colorful costumes, a rock-themed score and humor that could make even an ice sculpture chuckle.
In the play, best friends Gerda and Kai discover a book containing a mythical tale.
In the story, a troll has stolen a valuable mirror from the Snow Queen, one that distorts the mind and makes the world seem like a terrible place.
However, this was no tale, but a true story.
The troll uses this mirror on Kai, which transforms him into a cynical, cold-hearted boy and leads him to run away from his home and into the arms of the Snow Queen.
Gerda, refusing to believe she has lost her best friend, quests to find him.
Through her journey, she becomes enchanted by a sorceress, is captured by robbers and nearly freezes to death on the hike toward the Queen’s Palace.
She eventually manages to overcome all obstacles and find Kai with the help of new friends and a magical kiss.
When walking into the theatre, the scenery brought some disappointment.
The title lends itself to a setting of magical, sparkling white snow with the stage being covered in enough glitter to swim in.
However, the projection screen, metal rods and gears that made up the scene instead, ruined my hopes of experiencing the true magic of winter.
As the opening number was performed, I was questioning if I could make it through the next two hours, but as soon as the Snow Queen, played by Reagan Kennedy, sang her first line, I was captivated.
Her voice sent shivers of delight with the sound of her delicate voice reaching such high notes, and the production only bettered from there.
Cara Niebling and Mitchell Mcveigh played the best friend duo, Gerda and Kai, and they truly grew with their characters as the play continued.
By the end, it was clear to the audience that Gerda was no longer the little girl she was at the beginning.
All of the characters in the play were dressed in elaborate costume gowns, dating to the 19th century.
The animals, crows and pigeons had large gorgeous wings strapped to similar costumes and each had a different shape.
Even the people dressed as flowers were as colorful as the rainbow.
The soundtrack had its rock moments, with drums and electric guitars blaring, while a little “robber girl” screamed her lyrics to a song like the perfect whiny younger sibling.
Each character brought his or her own sense of style and humor to the stage, but Jack Mannion seemed to be a standout comedian of the play.
Mannion, who played an old crow, gave us the joy of a goofy old man who referred to each character as the opposite gender.
This easily had all the children in the theater giggling as if he was the funniest man alive.
The Erie Playhouse rarely lets the audience down with its performances, and this was by far one of the best productions I have seen from its company.
Although I was taken aback at first glance with the setting, “The Snow Queen” was still a wonderful show.
Anyone could tell the actors were having fun, and their young spirit and beautiful voices, is what made the show a great success for me.

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