Today we were invited to the press show of The Snow Queen at The Old Rep Theatre Birmingham. It was the perfect wintery treat to start the festive season.
The Old Rep seems to have really hit their groove for producing charming plays at Christmas based on traditional stories. We have enjoyed the productions of Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio. The Snow Queen is taken from the classic story by Hans Christian Anderson from the same creative team and they have managed to pull off the same feeling of warmth and charm. The play starts by introducing Gerda as she is celebrating her sister Karen’s birthday with the other girls from her village.
We loved the twist on the story as when the children turn thirteen a slither of ice enters their eyes and they are filled with hate and pain. This means they turn against anyone who is different from them. The theme of accepting people who are different from you runs through the play and it is an important message for children to hear. Gerda and her best friend Kai are determined not to let this happen to them when they turn thirteen.
Letitia Hector is magnificent in the role of the evil Snow Queen who has put the curse on the land. She looks and sounds fabulous, and we loved her incredible silver costume, with a glowing cape which she swishes to great effect. She has such charisma and absolutely dominates the stage whenever she is on, and she has a motorbike. A band of goblins, follow her, their masks are a little creepy and sensitive members of the audience might be worried at first especially when they come into the audience, but the way they dance and caper about is sure to make them laugh.
The set is very clever and gives the effect of winter with swathes of silver fabric, long strands of tinsel and dancing mirrors. Also, there is real snow, which makes the play feel so Christmassy! There are some really clever effects, we all loved the magic mirror which The Snow Queen looks in to see what Gerda is doing, using a clever animation with chunky Mario-style graphics.
I enjoyed the fact the play had such a strong female lead. Gerda played with a feisty determination by Christina Harris is the one who has to save Kai, even in the end it is her friendship which gives him the strength to survive the curse.
Much of the comedy in the play comes from Charlie Keable who plays Hader, the queen’s chief henchman. a goblin who has a large dressing up closet for his disguises and an unrequited love for the queen. We enjoyed watching him pretend to be a teenage girl and a woodcutter called Olaf. The play is full of catchy high energy songs. Our favorites were the upbeat Every day’s a Snow Day and the chorus of goblins dressed as woodcutters singing I’m Definitely not a Goblin.
This is a lovely family show which is a modern spin on the classic story proving that love and acceptance can really make a difference.
Disclaimer: We were given tickets for the show for the purposes of this review.