Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snow White, the musical, at Stage Nine

Snow White and the Seven (count 'em) Dwarfs. Photo by Allen Schmeltz Productions

With book, lyrics and music by Carol Weiss, Stage Nine brings a fresh and lively version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to Folsom. While primarily entertainment for children, the show is a delight for all ages.

It may come as a shock to some, but Walt Disney didn’t invent the story for his classic film version of 1937. What’s more, in the ancient European yarn none of the dwarfs was named Happy, Sleepy, Dopey, etc. A Germanic version, from the collection by the Brothers Grimm, calls the heroine Schneewittchen. At least that’s how the name is written in Low German. The Grimm guys didn’t even bother to name the dwarfs (or is it “dwarves?”)

In fact the only Disney influence appears to be in the costume, hairstyle and make-up of Shannon Wagner, who portrays a winsome Snow White in the current version, directed by Stage Nine artistic associate Allen Schmeltz. Overall the show is charming, tuneful, clever and very funny. Packed with 15 original songs it loosely follows the traditional yarn with frequent winks at the audience.

We start off with a fresh new twist, a rivalry between two sisters, Witch Wicked (Jessie Stein) and the Queen (Bri Lynaugh). The witch casts spells although her powers are running out of gas and the Queen, though beautiful, is…well…not nice. The Queen receives a mysterious gift, a magic mirror (Nicole Schedler) who informs her that she’s Number Two among regional beauties. Snow White, the princess, is the title holder.

Of course the Queen has to keep up appearances, so she orders a good-natured Sir Pompous (Tyler Robinson) to do a Jimmy Hoffa with Snow White. One thing follows another and the princess winds up unconscious among the seven dwarfs and….well, there’s a nubile prince (Chris Celestin) on the prowl.

I guess it’s okay to say that after much storm and stress everything works out satisfactorily, with support from three ladies in waiting, two additional lords and some help from volunteers in the audience. We also get 17 original songs, including a forest ballet, and one of the dwarfs, Woeful (Miriam Mars) plays the fiddle.

And of course there’s a moral, prefigured in one of the songs, “Every Deed You Do”: "You’re the mirror of everything you do."

Backing up the production are Musical Director Susan Mason, Choreographer and Accompanist Connie Mockenhaupt, Scene Designer Mike Jimena, and Costume Designer Eileen Beaver, who deserves a bouquet for outfitting a living mirror. Mark Ferreira supplies some recorded piano.

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” runs through March 15 at The Stage Nine Theatre, 717 Sutter Street in Historic Folsom. Performances are on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., lasting 90 minutes with a 10-minute intermission. Tickets are $12-15, with group discounts available. A special performance will be held on Saturday, Feb. 21, with a reception and a Disney artist available. Call (916) 353-1001 for tickets and reservations. See also

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