Just in time for Christmas, Theatre New Brunswick’s production of ‘The Snow Queen’ premiered this Thursday, with such apt timing that the recent cold snap is starting to seem like a conveniently-timed marketing campaign. A faithful adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairy tale by the same name with a script by TNB Artistic Director Thomas Morgan Jones, ‘The Snow Queen’ is a light-hearted, enjoyable seasonal tale that’s fun for the whole family.
When young Gerda’s (Miriam Fernandes) childhood friend Kay (Antoine Yared) is kidnapped by the magical Snow Queen (Michelle Polak), it is up to Gerda to save her friend. Travelling out into the wide world, Gerda finds herself meeting a wide cast of entertaining characters, including an elderly sorceress seeking to enchant passers by for the sake of company (Polak), a curmudgeonly old crow seeking to get back in his lover’s good graces (Andrew Broderick), a bandit’s rebellious daughter (Eva Barrie), and a reindeer that can only speak the truth (Broderick).
In her second lead role in a TNB production this season, Miriam Fernandes is a powerful leading lady, serving as a relatable heroine and the only constant in an ever-shifting cast of characters. Remaining full of energy and enthusiasm to push forward in her adventure, Fernandes’ performance is engaging. On the other side of the coin, Michelle Polak provides enjoyable performances as six separate characters. Whether cutting an imperious figure as the Snow Queen or quietly baking as Gerda’s humble, kind grandmother, Polak’s multifaceted performances range from dramatic to heartwarming to comedic. Arguably though, her most impressive feat in the production is keeping up with all the continuous costume changes required.
Visually speaking, ‘The Snow Queen’ takes strides to make itself a spectacle. While there are no permanent setpieces, with anything of the sort making its way in by being wheeled in or lowered from the ceiling, the entire stage is surrounded by a massive, illuminated wooden frame reminiscent of the border of a storybook picture, making every scene that much more grand.
The costuming also goes to lengths to make each character visually distinctive – a necessity for a play that splits a broad list of roles between just five actors. While some are more subdued, such as the rural Scandinavian styles worn by the people of Gerda and Kay’s village, others go the extra mile in terms of detail, most notably the Snow Queen herself, who can’t help but dominate the audience’s attention any time she glides onstage.
Whether you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly production for the kids or just want to see the classic story brought to life, ‘The Snow Queen’ is certain to be a good time for all. Combining a classic fairytale, childhood whimsey, and considerable talent, it’s sure to be a memorable experience.
‘The Snow Queen’ runs in Fredericton until December 17th before going on tour. For tickets, showtimes, and locations, please visit Theatre New Brunswick.