- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A new setting and interactive staging liven up a classic fairy tale in this weekend’s production of “Snow White Goes West,” a children’s musical performed by the College of Southern Maryland’s Children’s Theatre Company.
Set in California during the Gold Rush, the action begins when young Snow White and her prospector father strike gold. The news reaches Queenie, the conniving owner of “Crystal Palace,” the town saloon, who is then determined to make their good fortune her own. She kidnaps Snow White with the help of a bumbling assistant, but the heroine is saved by good-hearted miners, the seven Dwarf Brothers, and a handsome marshal named Prince.
The children’s musical was chosen by CSM theater associate professor Keith Hight, who “stumbled” across the adaptation when he helped produce it at a children’s theater in North Carolina.
“It’s a very fun show. To me, it’s really nice because it brings back a lot of fond memories of working with some really great people,” including playwright Jim Eiler, Hight said.
The original Grimms’ Brothers tale has its scary, even adult, moments, but nothing in Snow White Goes West would discomfit a young watcher, Hight said.
“There’s really no serious moments in the show. It’s a funny, friendly kind of country-western musical,” he said.
The production plays up the “slapstick” moments, said director Sherry Santana, and further softens the already mild violence in the script. She predicted that “the kids will probably walk away humming” the songs from the show.
Snow White is played by CSM freshman Aimee Bonnet of White Plains, who expects the show’s tunes to stay with the kids long after they leave the theater.
“The music should stick with them, especially the opening song, [which] is repeated again at the end. And then there’s the main song, ‘Golden California,’ singing about all this gold because it’s during the Gold Rush. … I think if the music doesn’t get stuck with them, maybe the parents will be happy,” Bonnet joked. “It’s fun, but it’s a very childish show.”
Queenie is played by Shemika Berry, a Waldorf mother of three who has won awards for doing makeup and hairstyles at other regional theaters. CSM productions are open to members of the community, and Snow White Goes West is Berry’s third play at the college.
“It’s been a lot of fun learning the choreography and the music. One of the biggest challenges the cast has to learn is [that] when singing songs and doing choreography at the same time, it’s very easy to get out of breath,” she said.
The play has its interactive moments, to keep the attention of the littlest children, so the audience is “almost able to be involved with the show. It will become very up-close and personal with them. I’m the evil queen, but I’m not that evil, and certainly not scary. She’s more like the Queen of Hearts in the Disney version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’: She has a temper tantrum,” Berry said.
The production values at CSM performances far outstrip those of most community college performances, Santana said, giving students “a taste” of life at a professional production and the audience great value for the cost of admission.
“It’s professional-grade theater in their own backyard. You can’t get any better than that. You really can’t,” Santana said.
Supporting roles are played by James Burd Brewster of Pomfret as Narrator; Alex La Clair of La Plata as Marshal Joe Prince; Ken La Clair of La Plata as Snow White’s father; J.R. Cook of Lexington Park as Sneaky Sam, Queenie’s assistant; Marleigh and Leigha Ferguson of Charlotte Hall as miners; and Alex Richardson of Waldorf as the magical mirror.
The Dwarf brothers are played by Rami Essa of Waldorf, Jeremy Hunter of La Plata, Ricky Jenkins of Waldorf, Horace Brandon Jones of Cheltenham, Xavier Prince of Waldorf, Eid Brian Taylor of Waldorf and Kenneth Waters of Waldorf.