I Missed “The Wiz” for This: THE SNOW QUEEN

Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures.

L-R: Nick Sulfaro as Kai, Aimee Doherty as the Snow Queen, and Victoria Britt as Gerda. Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Book by Kirsten Brandt and Rick Lombardo
Music by Haddon Kime
Lyrics by Kirsten Brandt, Rick Lombardo, and Haddon Kime
Additional music, stage direction and choreography by Rick Lombardo
Associate choreographer: Kelli Edwards
Musical direction by Emily Intersimone

Nov. 28 – Dec. 20, 2015
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Charles Mosesian Theater
Watertown, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA) We critics want to write positive reviews. For the most part (I can’t speak for everyone), we enter a performance space sincerely hoping that the performance that follows will blow us out of the water with its exceptional talent, creativity, ingenuity and expression of the human condition. We want everyone to do well. Writing a negative review is a draining experience for a critic. The truth can be a bitter pill to swallow.

The performance I saw of New Rep’s The Snow Queen was disappointing. From where I sat in the theater, it seemed as if the cast did not want to be performing that evening. Their energy was low. They only turned on for the audience if they had focus. They were, for all intents and purposes, phoning it in. And they knew that we knew.

It isn’t a bad production. Rather, it was mediocre which is worse. The cast was capable of so much more than they gave. It could be that they were exhausted because they opened on Monday. It may have been due to the small size of the audience. It could even be a result of their mourning the abysmal, completely preventable gun violence in California. There are a myriad of explanations for why the cast wasn’t committed to their performances on Thursday night. An explanation is not an excuse. Especially when taking into account the tremendous known but unseen talents of the cast.

The Snow Queen should be a fun but fluffy children’s musical. The book by Kirsten Brandt and Rick Lombardo is juvenile and underdeveloped but its Alice in Wonderland meets Narnia perspective on coming of age has the potential to start serious conversations about growing up. The costume designs by Frances Nelson McSherry have an appealing steampunk glamour. The projections by Garrett Herzig transport the viewer beyond the stage into a new reality. But the behaviors of the cast, half of the band members, and whomever was falling asleep at the soundboard meant the negative outweighed the positive.

Considering the quality of theatre that New Rep is known for, this could very well have been a fluke. Please go see The Snow Queen and tell me if you have a great experience. I would very much like to be incorrect about this show.

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