Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Based on Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen follows the extraordinary adventures of a Gerda, a young student whose strict father no longer approves of her next door neighbor and life-long friend Cei. A shard of the Snow Queen's magical mirror falls into Cei's eye and he is soon swept away to the Queen's wintry realm. Everyone else thinks Cei is dead, but Gerda is certain he can be saved. Gerda travels through the river and into the land of seasons to save him, but it soon becomes clear that more than just Cei's fate depends on Gerda's ability to defeat the evil Queen.
MacLaughlin's production strikes just the right balance between scary and fun. Katherine Fried's stunning, frigid, and vicious Snow Queen is a stone-cold villain. Gliding around the stage casting glances cold enough to burn, Fried sets a darkly exhilarating tone. Eunice Akinola is vulnerable, anxious and awesome as unlikely hero Gerda. Kala Moses Baxter plays a variety of roles with epic vigor. Jo Vito Ramirez exudes ample charm and humor as everything from a prince to a very lovely flower. Jenna Kuerzi is utterly charming in summer and raucously enthusiastic in fall. The talented ensemble share an easy chemistry that makes the production sparkle.
MacLaughlin and the Arden clearly know how to craft superlative children's theater. With its top notch cast, clever stagecraft, and heartfelt storytelling, The Snow Queen is surely among their best.
The Snow Queen runs through January 26, 2020, on the Arden Theatre Company's F. Otto Haas stage, 40 N. 2nd Street, Old City Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information visit www.ardentheatre.org or call 215-922-1122.