Review: Interaction between two characters keeps play alive
The School of Theatre and Dance students at this year’s production of the “The Snow Queen” was overshadowed by the central characters in the play. The loving relationship between the lead roles kept the performance entertaining.
The play is part of the Theatre for Young Audiences series, which aims to familiarize stagecraft to elementary and middle school students.
The third production of the theater season stars freshman Jacob Perkel and junior actor Paige Wharton, whose caring friendship leaves the audience rooting in their favor and not for the icy Snow Queen.
The play, originally a fairy tale written by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, begins with the story of the Snow Queen, who is played by sophomore Sarah Ornelas. The queen ruled her magical kingdom with an icy cold heart and a mind obsessed with perfection.
After the audience learns of the queen’s enchanted mirror breaking, the play shifts to a poor town where the children Cei and Gerda live.
Young Cei’s character is immediately introduced as a joyful and spirited boy after being scolded by his school teacher for drawing a penguin on his homework. Cei’s school teacher, who is also Gerda’s father, is played by theater education freshman Duggan Friendshuh.
Following class when Gerda’s father demands that she never see Cei again, Wharton does a good job at letting the audience feel her pain.
The morning after Gerda’s father’s decision, shards of the Snow Queen’s broken enchanted mirror fly into Cei’s eye and he falls under a spell. Cei becomes cold-hearted and rude to his loved ones. Perkel successfully embodies this new character that eventually breaks Gerda’s heart.
After school lets out early, the new Cei asks his peers to compete in a game of sledding. After reaching the bottom of the hill, Cei is whisked away by the Snow Queen to her far-away land. The queen makes Cei help fix her broken mirror, and with Cei as her helper, she has a plan to freeze the hearts of all living things and once again rule a world of snow and ice.
Once Cei has gone missing, Gerda stays hopeful that he is still alive and decides to go on a journey to find him, which initially seems confusing and unfitting to the plot’s story.
She first lands in what seems like the Old South, with a jealous country-like maid who insists that Gerda stays. The second stop resembles a 1920s beach town, and the third and final stop is set in a forest infested with gypsy-like carnivores.
Later these stops are referred to as the lands of spring, summer and fall. Without that connection, one would have never guessed the importance of those settings.
The only hope that lies within the play is that Gerda gets back her friend and saves the day.
Fortunately, Gerda saves Cei from the queen’s spell and sets the seasons back in place, providing the fairy tale ending.
“The Snow Queen” will run again at 2 p.m. at the Wortham Theatre on Friday and Saturday.