Spring blossoms can bloom all they want. The Snow Queen production at Creative Cauldron is a timeless treasure that fits even during warming temperatures.
In the opening montage, the narrator (an engaging E. Augustus Knapp) describes the town’s happenings while the young performers depict characters as they move along the stage — school chums, a baker, a grandmother, all singing about the seasons, beautiful snowflakes, and tales of Long Ago and Far Away. We are warned of the powerful Snow Queen (a stunning Lenny Mendez), whose shattered mirror can shoot ice crystals into the eyes of hapless victims. Even with the warning, the depiction of the smashed glass is startlingly effective, thanks to the perfectly cued visual and sound effects.
When icicles get into Kai’s eyes (played winningly by Henry Gill), he turns from a jolly playmate into a cold-hearted bloke who says and does the meanest things to his friends and loved ones. When his friend Gerda discovers that he’s been snatched into the clutches of the Snow Queen, she sets out on a journey across the winter tundra and an enchanted garden to find him.
Mega-talented Zoe Folse-Sibert is Gerda, and I’m betting we haven’t seen the last of her on stage. Her character stays laser-focused on her task, and her steadfast commitment keeps your attention with every move. Gerda seeks high and low for her friend, leaving no stone unturned and meeting strange characters either distracting or dangerous or both along the way. She listens intently to their stories with sweet empathy and then returns resolutely to her task, finding Kai. Members of the ensemble — initially attired girls in hardy skirts and bonnets, fellows in waistcoats and top hats (costumes beautifully designed by Margie Jervis) — turn into crows, robbers, endangered creatures of the forest, even an iridescent-blue flowing river. It’s a winsome tale, and the young performers entertain with rambunctious energy as Gerda demonstrates the true meaning of friendship throughout the journey.
The writing is upbeat and even punchy with hefty helpings of snark delivered with ease by the youngsters. Let’s just say the poppy field from the Wizard of Oz has nothing on the stoned weeds in the enchanted garden. Music by Music Director Matt Conner and lyrics by Stephen Gregory Smith provide crests of dramatic intensity and melodic resolution for yet another winning combination.
A special feature of the show is its bilingual Spanish passages, adding an inclusive approach to the material and audience. The sections work because even without direct translation, there’s enough in the dramatic action to move the story.
The show features elementary and middle school-aged students in the Learning Theatre Ensemble, Creative Cauldron’s educational program. Watching talented young people engaged in such quality material encourages hope for the future, and this is what The Snow Queen / La Reina de las Nieves achieves in this fun-filled family entertainment.
Running Time: One hour and 15 minutes, with no intermission.
The Snow Queen / La Reina de las Nieves plays through April 2, 2023 (Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM, Sundays at 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM), at Creative Cauldron, 410 South Maple Avenue, Retail 116, Falls Church, VA. Purchase tickets (adults, $20; students, $18) online or call the box office, at 703-436-9948.
The Snow Queen also live-streams Saturday, April 1, at 7:30 PM. Purchase tickets ($15) online.
The program for The Snow Queen is online here.
COVID Safety: Audiences are required to wear masks for this performance. See Creative Cauldron’s complete COVID-19 Theater Protocols.
The Snow Queen / La Reina de las Nieves
Adapted from Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen
Written by Ellen Selby and PJ Audenzia, Laura Conners Hull and Lenny Mendez
Music and Music Direction by Matt Conner
Lyrics by Stephen Gregory Smith
Directed by Laura Conners Hull, Lenny Mendez, Will Stevenson
E. Augustus Knapp as Story Guide
Lenny Mendez as the Snow Queen
The Learning Theater Ensemble
Costume, Props, and Set Design: Margie Jervis, Lighting Design by Lynn Joslin, Projection Designer: James Morrison, Stage Manager, and Sound Design: Nicolas J. Goodman