By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — In a white sleigh, the Snow Queen takes off on a tour of the night sky. Stars glimmer; snowflakes fall. The northern lights appear.
A young boy named Cei is bewitched in this story — and that's a dangerous thing. The icy Snow Queen means to take him away, freeze his heart and make him more like her.
So opens Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale, soon to arrive in Port Townsend. “The Snow Queen,” starring Rosa Linda Davies, 17, in the title role, opens tonight at the Key City Playhouse, 419 Washington St., and stays for a three-week run right up to the Sunday before Christmas.
“The Snow Queen is so elegant, but feral,” said Rosa. This monarch means to take over the world starting with innocent Cei, and “her tactics and emotions constantly change,” the actress added.
“As she fights to get what she wants, there's the 'charming' part of her, the regal Queen, and the more frightening creature.”
Taking on the queen is Gerda the brave, portrayed by 14-year-old Ciara Halligan. She is aided by a variety of creatures including Frederica, the Princess of Summer (Carly Davies), and a pair of flowers (Harmony Erikson and Emillia Nunn).
As Gerda embarks on a quest to save her friend Cei, she travels through the seasons. She gathers strength for the battle between love and evil. And “The Snow Queen,” director Angela Amos believes, is both a children's fairy tale and a story that will enchant the grown-ups. She calls the special effects — Karen Anderson's lighting design and Adam Matthew's soundscapes — “dazzling.”
Amos, directing her third holiday production at Key City Public Theatre, adds that “The Snow Queen” offers a dual message.
Each season bears gifts. And time can heal. In the case of these young people, Amos adds, time transforms.
“The cast is amazing,” she says, noting most of the 11 performers play multiple characters.
This version, Amos adds, sticks to Andersen's story first published in 1845. When asked about “Frozen,” the Disney movie version of the tale, Amos said she has yet to see it. Discussions are happening online and off, of course, about whether the animated feature does justice to “The Snow Queen.”
Amos, meantime, is enjoying a reunion with kids she's worked with in Key City Public Theatre's summer theater camps.
She also knows Rosa well; three Decembers ago she directed the teenager in “The Little Match Girl,” another Andersen tale at the Key City Playhouse.
In “The Snow Queen,” each character has his or her own tale to tell, Rosa notes.
“[Amos] is constantly encouraging us to explore those individual stories, and make our own decisions about our characters,” she says, “which really makes the play come to life. Every moment is so full.”
Performances of “The Snow Queen” start at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays, tonight through Dec. 22. This Sunday, Dec. 8, and next Thursday, Dec. 12, are the pay-what-you-wish shows. The performance's running time is one hour and 45 minutes.
This is a play for all ages, and while children are welcome at any performance, there are three family shows with reduced prices and treats for kids: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, and 7 p.m. this Wednesday, Dec. 11, and next Wednesday, Dec. 18.
At these performances, tickets are $7 for children age 12 and younger; $3 for small children who can sit in their folks' laps; $10 for youth age 13 to 18 and $10 for any adult who comes with a child.
Otherwise, “Snow Queen” tickets are $18 to $20, with discounts for students, and abundant information awaits at 360-385-KCPT (5278) and www.KeyCityPublicTheatre.org.