Writer: from the story by Hans Christian Andersen
Music: Simon Paterson
Artistic Director and Choreographer: Christopher Moore
Reviewer: Janet Jepson
Every little girl and just about every little boy in the landis familiar with the concept that true love can melt even the most deeply frozen heart, thanks to the great Mr Disney. His smash-hit movie Frozen was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s iconic fairytale The Snow Queen, and as the packed Civic Theatre in Rotherham proved, the classic ballet based on the tale is almost as popular.
This magical production follows the story of the young girl Gerda and her quest to find the Snow Queen, who has placed the kingdom under an evil spell of eternal winter and frozen the heart of her friend Kay. Gerda’s journey leads her across icy lands where she meets glittering ice princesses, a strange forest lady bearing flowers, charming snowmen, deceitful gypsies, an enchanted reindeer and a friendly raven who finally leads her to the Snow Queen’s Palace of Ice, where the lady herself is protected by her posse of fierce wolves. Of course, as in all fairytales there is a happy ending, and true love manages to break the spell and release the kingdom from the Snow Queen’s curse.
This production by Ballet Theatre UK is a beautiful re-telling of the story. The Snow Queen is well danced by Claire Corruble – her costume is the stuff of every aspiring ballerina’s dream, complete with shimmering ‘ice’ bodice and headdress. Sarah Mortimer and Rodolphe Giacalone respectively play the lead rôles of Gerda and Kay, and both are talented dancers who work together perfectly. All other rôles are taken by the ensemble, but special mention has to be made of Robert Noble who dances the Raven, and David Brewer who is the Reindeer. Both capture the tiny details of each creature’s movements and antics with endearing accuracy.
The costume department has to be congratulated on its imaginative creations. All the creatures – wolves, the reindeer and the raven – are instantly recognisable and believable, yet designed well enough to allow total freedom of movement for the dancers. The Alpine-style villagers’ outfits are authentic and stylish in subtle hues of blue and lilac with pinkish tones for the lead couple. The gypsy costumes are wonderful, in stunning blacks and reds, complete with thick, dark, curly wigs. There are proper tutus for the ensemble dancers, and tights and tunics aplenty for the boys. The only criticism being, a few stretches of thick white elastic (added in to hold up and secure together), rather stand out like the proverbial sore digits.
The set is simple, with an icy scene in blue shades on a backdrop, and glittery snowflake encrusted side curtains – which incidentally and, unfortunately, do not always conceal artistes stripping off and changing in the wings. The Snow Queen’s throne and sleigh are very basic boxy affairs, but very effective, especially the throne with its eerie, glowing, purple under lighting.
A trip to see The Snow Queen is a pleasant evening out, transporting the audience to a fairytale world for a couple of hours. The production is not along the lines of a top ballet company, but the dancing is well performed, the sound is good and the whole thing is aesthetically pleasing. Yes, there’s a wobble or two, and the dancers are not completely well-matched in size and shape, but their wonderful smiles and enthusiasm more than makes up for any tiny flaws. This is a show that will be enjoyed by your daughter, your husband, your granny, your best friend or anyone else – but that said, the teenage lad with his mum and sister on the second row at Rotherham didn’t look overly impressed …
Touring Nationwide | Image: Contributed