Marriott Lincolnshire’s Theater for Young Audiences is a marvelous, magical series introducing the engaging power of live performances to both young and those young at heart. They are closing the 2023 season with The Snow Queen Musical book by Kristen Brandt and Rick Lombardo. The lyrics to this coming-of-age adventure by Kristen Brandt, Haddon Kime, and Rick Lombardo have a pop-rock and roll vibe. The modern music is by Haddon Kime. It is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s series of seven classic, beloved fairy tales pitting good against evil. Written in 1844, it is a timeless classic. The Snow Queen has been rewritten into films, plays, musicals, operas, ballets, and video games.
The original fairy tale series is believed to mirror the opera singer dubbed the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind’s rejection of Anderson’s romantic overtures. I am sure most of the audience expects a live version of Frozen. This production retains the original storyline, albeit with a contemporary musical score. Although Disney’s Frozen has borrowed many elemental details from The Snow Queen the musical, differs dramatically. This tale is about an innocent good child’s heart, Gerda, winning over evil through her unconditional love for her best friend Kai. He is stolen to the frozen land by the Snow Queen and held prisoner in her palace.
We travel with Gerda through fantasy lands where animals talk and flowers both dance and sing on her quest to rescue Kai. Although the children seemed entranced by the songs, acting, and dancing, at least for the first forty-five minutes; I thought the story was a bit complicated for a complete youth understanding. I would suggest parents and family members prepare the younger children with a synopsis of Anderson’s tale. However, do not stop dressing them in the adorable Frozen costumes and holiday dress-up. Their precious costumes and holiday fashion enhance the experience for all.
The Snow Queen stars Jorybel Ginorio in her debut performance at Marriott Lincolnshire as a convincing, high-energy, adolescent heroine, Gerda. She recently graduated from Texas Technical University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre. Jeremiah Alsop plays Gerda’s best friend, Kai/Prince/Flower. He has excellent range and transitions from the joyful friend of Gerda to a distant cold, obsessively calculating being once infected with the shards of evil mirror sprinkled by the Troll devil portrayed by Ryan Stajimiger. He also delightfully plays the Rose/Crow/ and Reindeer. He has a beautiful, mellifluous voice and a charismatic personality. Alanna Chavez has multiple roles and balances her performances skillfully. She rocks as the magical, stunning, alluring, but cold Snow Queen/Flower/Princess/ and Robber Girl. Caron Buinis accomplishes quite the feat, performing as the Grandmother/Lady Crow/ Wise Woman of the North/Witch/ and Robber Mother. She is a consummate performer who owns the stage on her appearances.
The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences team led by Associate Artistic Director Katie Johannigman, with costume design by Janelle Smith, lighting design by Daphne Agosin, scenic and prop design by Eleanor Kahn, sound design by Michael Daly, and media design by Tony Churchill does a stellar job behind the scenes with the quick transitions and costume changes and expertly setting the mood with creative simple minimal set design. I did love the Snow Queen’s entrance to the stage decorated with shining garlands. Kudos to stage manager Matthew Silar on this superb production.
The Snow Queen is perfect for the holidays. I believe the gift of an experience is valuable on many fronts. Experiences create lifetime shared memories. The Snow Queen not only entertains, but delivers powerful messages to young people. It sparks imagination and creativity. The actors’ questions and answers session after the performance gives the audience an interactive role. Through the astute quality of the questions, I heard much knowledge was gained by the audience on collaboration, teamwork, and character motivation.
THE SNOW QUEEN plays most Fridays through Sundays at 10 am with select 12:30 pm performances and plenty of holiday week performances. An ASL-interpreted performance will take place on December 16 at 10 am. Visit MarriottTheatre.com or call 847.634.0200 for the exact schedule, as show times and dates vary. Tickets are $15.75 (plus tax and handling fees). Call for substantial group discounts on over 20 tickets. Free parking is available at all performances. To reserve tickets, please call The Marriott Theatre Box Office at 847.634.0200 or visit MarriottTheatre.
Photos: Courtesy of Liz Lauren and Heron Agency