A fairtytale moment for the kids
Before I took my kids to see The Puppet Co.’s latest main stage production,
Snow White and the 7 Dwarves, I knew we were in for treat. Besides the fact that we’ve never been disappointed by a performance there, the description of the show promised their “usual sideways view of a popular story,” which I appreciate just as much as the incredible craftsmanship of the puppets.
It’s one thing to bring a classic fairytale to life on stage and quite another to modify a well-known tale with updated values and small plot tweaks that appeal to both kids and adults. The Puppet Co. does it wonderfully in
Snow White, with subtle changes that heighten the magic for little ones and keep it interesting for grown-ups.
The title itself holds a clue about the production’s slight divergences from the original. The Tolkien spelling of “dwarves” is an indication that the differences are linked to the little guys. Each dwarf has a unique feature that gives him a special ability — a large nose has a super sense of smell, huge ears can hear the farthest sounds. Adding these characteristics are a small change that convey a greater message of looking beyond the surface to see what makes someone special. And the friendships of the dwarves, both among each other and with Snow White, are meant to be an example of how teamwork can make all challenges easier.
It’s not just the story that makes for a great show, the execution of the production is remarkable as well. Both people and puppets play significant roles, and the actors have more than just one part. Snow White and the queen are played by the same woman, the prince also voices several dwarves, and the evil woman (played by a man) is a puppet master behind the scenes as well. (Let me note that I learned this on a post-show backstage tour; on stage, it all comes off seamlessly and magically.)
Director Allan Stevens with one of the dwarves
And, of course, special mention must be made about the puppets and set. The marionettes capture all the whimsy and magic of a fairytale, while displaying the amazing artistry of their makers. Amid a set composed of a large circle (used as the queen’s mirror, the dwarves cottage, and the forest) with digital images projected through it to set the scene, it’s a wonderful presentation of a timeless tale.
Snow White and the 7 Dwarves is playing at The Puppet Co. at Glen Echo Park through June 2. The show is 40 minutes long and recommended for ages 5 and up (my 5-year-old loved it; my 2-year-old got a little antsy mid-way through). Tickets are $10 (children under 2 are free) and can be purchased online or at the box office.
Synetic Family Theater’s production of The Magic Paintbrush has experienced such great success, the theater is extending its run for an additional two weeks. The play, based on the the classic Chinese folktale of the same name, has been selling out shows all season and recently received the Helen
I just included my take on the show in the latest weekend round-up, so here is a repost: The Magic Paintbrush takes the audience on a dramatic adventure through China. Owen and I saw the play a couple of weeks ago, and we were both enchanted. Performed completely through pantomime (or physical storytelling, as the theater calls it) I was unsure how Owen would respond. But while he couldn’t quite follow the story, he was nonetheless captivated by the expressive actors performing along with beautiful Chinese music and action-packed scenes, including Cirque de Soleil-like choreography, as actors whirled mid-air on suspended curtains. I’d recommend reading the story with your kids prior to the show, so they have a better understanding of the plot, but even if you don’t have an opportunity, they’ll likely be mesmerized all the same.
You can read another, more thorough review
Tickets for The Magic Paintbrush are $12 and
available for purchase through the Synetic Theater website. Click the following links to buy tickets for specific dates: