‘Snow Maiden’ delights all ages at Synetic Theater

The power of friendship is the theme, and the show is performed without words.

Snow Maiden at Synetic — directed by Synetic co-founder and choreographer Irina Tsikurvishvili — is like those transparent snow globes you see so often at Christmas, full of white flakes, with a miniature scene inside.

I saw the show at a matinee, full of children. Girls in pink, white, chiffon, wearing tiaras. Six-year-old boys. Middle schoolers in sweatpants and hoodies. Their parents, mostly well-dressed and friendly, watched attentively to make sure no one got lost or strayed.

Maryam Najafzada as Snow Maiden and Vato Tsikurishvili as The Boy in ‘The Snow Maiden.’ Photo by Michael Butcher for Elman Studio.

The story, originally from Russian folklore, has appeared in many forms. It has inspired adaptations such as the opera The Snow Maiden: a Spring Fairy Tale by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, first performed in St. Petersberg in 1882.

Onstage is a frozen silver forest. In the center, a crooked little house. Inside is Vato Tsikurvishvili as The Boy. He is dressed simply. He looks lonely. He sleeps.

He goes outside and struggles with a large white bundle. We see an arm, a hand. He is making a girl out of snow!

She is the superb classically trained ballerina Maryam Najafzada. At first, she seems like a mechanical doll, as in Léo Delibes’ ballet Coppélia (1870).

Vato Tsikurishvili as The Boy and Maryam Najafzada as Snow Maiden in ‘The Snow Maiden.’ Photo by Michael Butcher for Elman Studio.

But she is alive! She plays tricks on The Boy. She hides behind trees. As she creeps up behind him, he is oblivious. Girls and boys sitting next to me began calling, “She’s behind you!” “Look behind you!”

Vato Tsikurishvili as The Boy comes out with snowballs and begins to throw them into the audience. The Snow Maiden joins in. The children are standing up, crying “Here!” “Here!”

There is a giant snowball too, tossed into the audience and passed around overhead!

Tsikurvishvili brings a girl up to the stage and dances with her. His athleticism and comedic talents are exceptional. I heard more than one gasp from the audience as he and Najafzada performed a flawless duet.

Maryam Najafzada as Snow Maiden and Vato Tsikurishvili as The Boy in ‘The Snow Maiden.’ Photo by Michael Butcher for Elman Studio.

The music by resident composer Koki Lortkipanidze is extraordinary as always. It includes Christmas classics “O Holy Night,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and “the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite.

Production designer Phil Charlwood’s set and the lighting of Peter Leibold IV capture perfectly the cold beauty of the winter and the magnificence of the stars. Kasey Brown’s costumes have just the right mysterious charm.

The power of friendship is the theme, and the show is performed without words. One is reminded of the aphorism from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 novella, Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), one of the most popular books in the world:

On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux (“One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye”).

Synetic has recently been told they must find a new home. When you turn out a world-class theater, you not only lose a supremely talented group of individuals. You have committed a crime against art. All the beloved characters from over the years — Snow Maiden, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Don Quixote, and of course Cyrano de Bergerac — will be gone too.

Let us hope they find a new home worthy of them.

And meanwhile, enjoy!

Running Time: Approximately 45 minutes.

Snow Maiden plays through January 6, 2024, at Synetic Theater in the underground Crystal City Shops, 1800 South Bell Street, Arlington, VA. Tickets ($25–$35) are available online, at the theater box office (open an hour before showtime), by email at [email protected], or by phone at (703) 824-8060 x117.

Appropriate for all ages.

COVID Safety: Masks are optional but recommended for all patrons, staff, and ushers during shows and events. See Synetic Theater’s complete COVID-19 Safety Protocols here.

Snow Maiden
Created and Directed by Irina Tsikurishvili
Performed by Maryam Najafzada and Vato Tsikurishvili

Snow Maiden: Maryam Najafzada
The Boy: Vato Tsikurishvili

Director/Choreographer: Irina Tsikurishvili
Resident Composer: Koki Lortkipanidze
Original Production Designer: Aleksandr Shiriaev
Remount Scenic Designer/Technical Director: Phil Charlwood
Costume Designer: Kasey Brown
Lighting Designer: Peter Leibold IV
Sound Engineer: Brandon Cook
Assistant Lighting Designer: Hailey LaRoe
Associate Costume Designer: Alexa Duimstra

Hope, dreams, and friendship warm ‘The Snow Maiden’ at Synetic (review of the 2022 production by Julia Amis, December 13, 2022)

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Sophia Howes
Sophia Howes has been a reviewer for DCTA since 2013 and a columnist since 2015. She has an extensive background in theater. Her play Southern Girl was performed at the Public Theater-NY, and two of her plays, Rosetta’s Eyes and Solace in Gondal, were produced at the Playwrights’ Horizons Studio Theatre. She studied with Curt Dempster at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, where her play Madonna was given a staged reading at the Octoberfest. Her one-acts Better Dresses and The Endless Sky, among others, were produced as part of Director Robert Moss’s Workshop-NY. She has directed The Tempest, at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheatre, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Monongalia Arts Center, both in Morgantown, WV. She studied Classics and English at Barnard and received her BFA with honors in Drama from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where she received the Seidman Award for playwriting. Her play Adamov was produced at the Harold Clurman Theater on Theater Row-NY. She holds an MFA from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where she received the Lucille Lortel Award for playwriting. She studied with, among others, Michael Feingold, Len Jenkin, Lynne Alvarez, and Tina Howe.


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