The Snow Queen
This decent, five-hander sixty-minute show is a real mixture. At its heart is Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen retold by Julian Chenery with lots of borrowing from elsewhere. The quest to the Snow Queen’s palace owes a lot (including the permitted eight bars of music) to The Wizard of Oz with Gerda (Isabella Kirkpatrick) setting off to rescue her friend Kai (Daniel Wallage – good). En route, she gathers companions including a very familiar scarecrow worrying about his lack of brains. Also in the mix are pantomime conventions including appeals to the audience and invitations to sing along and a series of quite clever crow puns for the appreciation of attentive grown ups.
Zoe Beardsall is well cast as the Snow Queen because her unusual height makes her seem imposing and powerful. She doubles as several other things including a rather jolly Finnish woman and has impressive full belt singing capacity. Kirkpatrick is strong as the feisty Dorothy-like Gerda and looks good beside Beardsall because of the dramatic height difference. Jim Burrows has a lot of fun as the cheeky, pushy Snowman although I’m very glad I don’t have to do three shows a day under stage lights in that costume.
Hugo Joss Catton is a refreshing reindeer – the third companion who joins Gerda along the way. The front leg stilt idea has, of course, been done many times since we first saw it in The Lion King but Catton’s body work and the unlikely way he uses the front legs in dance is exceptionally good fun. He also brings comforting gravitas as Hans Christian Andersen occasionally contributing narration.
This show has been revived several times since it debuted in 2015. The 2023 version is directed by Olivia Chenery (Shakespeare 4 Kidz is a family business). It did three shows free for primary schools in Croydon before its tour of Dubai. What it lacks in originality it makes up for in energy and commitment. And most of the children I saw it with were clearly engaged and enjoying themselves.
First published by Sardines https://www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk/review/the-snow-queen-99/