“The Snow Queen” at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (Closed on Sunday July 20, 2014)

July 19, 2014 | NY Musical Theatre | Tags:
Book by Kirsten Brandt and Rick Lombardo
Music by Haddon Kime (with Additional Music by Rick Lombardo)
Lyrics by Kirsten Brandt, Haddon Kime, and Rick Lombardo
Directed by Rick Lombardo
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“The Snow Queen,” the new musical being presented as part of NYMF at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, is a new twist on the age old fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. Coming on the heels of a recent reinvented animated movie based on the same story, this reincarnation takes a completely different path. Although the musical has a strong Brechtian epic theatre influence and a more modern approach to the fable – where some of the cast are incorporated into the action playing instruments, providing vocals, and playing multiple characters clad in exquisite bohemian influenced costumes – at times it is a bit unclear what the production wants to be. It certainly is dark enough to captivate adults along with appealing and seductive staging for the teenage crowd and finally a storyline that would be all too familiar with children. The problem lies where there is not enough focus on any of the aforementioned to sustain any age group’s interest for the long two hours and thirty minute production. Focus shifts inadvertently, musical numbers are repetitively long and intent becomes shallow which all affect the pacing. Perhaps with some reconstruction and clearer horizon this interpretation of the famed tale will reemerge in the near future.

All that said this critic must take the opportunity to applaud the cast for their committed and exuberant performance. Eryn Murman and John Michael Presney create the perfect match as Gerta and Kai respectively, each in great vocal form with well defined characterizations. Jane Pfitsch is astonishing as The Snow Queen, eloquently evil, piercing the audience with her strong vocals and mean violin. Jason Hite gives an incredible performance in multiple roles but shines as the Crow with fine and fun vocals, perfect diction and sincere emotional investment. The entire cast shines as they create illusion and understand the importance of ensemble work in order to achieve success in their attempt to bring this tale to the stage.