One of the most exciting ventures of Shakespeare By the Sea is their annual Family Show, which provides Halifax audiences with a fun and unique musical, enjoyable for all audiences, but specifically appropriate for children, each summer in Point Pleasant Park. There isn’t a lot of theatre in Halifax during the summer, and there especially isn’t a lot that caters to the masses of Haligonian children who are on vacation and eager for something different and something funny to entertain them. Snow White, which plays at the Cambridge Battery until September 1st, 2013, is exactly that, which is likely why it has been breaking Shakespeare By the Sea audience attendance records already.
A re-imagining of the famous Brothers Grimm tale, Snow White was created by the ensemble with music and lyrics by Jeremy Hutton. It tells the tale of a young and extremely naive Princess, Snow White, who has been forbidden from leaving her castle by her overprotective father. When her wicked stepmother learns that Snow White has grown to become the fairest in the land, she hatches a plan to kill her just as an equally naive Prince, Charming, arrives in bumbling attempt to woo, rescue or avenge any Princess in need. Through a series of mishaps, mistaken identities and Patrick Swayze references, Snow White ends up in the home of the tallest dwarfs in the land and they are not the ones that you might be expecting.
Kathryn McCormack makes an adorable, joyful and delightful Snow White. She manages to play a very sweet and gullible young lady with sharp comic timing and has an emerging sense of her own inner strength, identity and bravery that thankfully transcends any hackneyed “dumb Princess” clichés. Tom Gordon Smith’s Prince Charming is even dimmer than his Princess, but his goodhearted goofiness makes his quest easy for the audience to cheer for. Ian Deakin’s Misguided King and Kimberley Cody’s Wicked Queen make a nice counter to their roles as Wicked King and Misguided Queen in Hamlet, which plays in repertory with Snow White and Much Ado About Nothing for the rest of the summer. Cody is fierce and full of evil diva exuberance. There is a distinct Naomi Snieckus-esque comic sensibility in Cody, which I’d love to see harnessed even more precisely. Simon Rainville is a humorous mixture of Beverley Leslie from Will and Grace and a horse, as Horace, Prince Charming’s faithful, apple-loving sidekick. His horse dance at the end of the show is worth increasing your Shakespeare by the Sea donation for. Jacob Sampson brings some soulful panache to the Magic Mirror and Riley Raymer is endearing as Eileen, the random dwarf. Although, I wish that the pun on her name was a running gag (or perhaps even an excuse to sing the song they’re referencing).
The barbershop quartet of Marty Burt, Jeremy Hutton, Emma Laishram and Drew O’Hara are the backbone of Snow White’s all-original score. Their voices are gorgeously melodious in four part harmonies that soar into the wide open skies of the park. These Jeremy Hutton/Jesse MacLean family shows are becoming more and more like summertime pantomimes, which I think is the perfect direction for them to grow into. As the songs become more frequently power rock ballads it would be helpful for the lead singers to have microphones, so that their voices are able to dominate in that style over the vocal strength of the quartet. I would also be interested to see the music being a mixture of Hutton’s original songs with a few songs appropriated from pop culture, in the pantomime style. As these production numbers get larger and more intricate, it would be beneficial for MacLean to bring in a choreographer to help give more distinct shape and variety to the dancing.
In all, Snow White is a fun and engaging theatrical romp that makes for an entertaining visit to Point Pleasant Park for the whole family this summer in Halifax.
Snow White plays in repertory with Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing until September 1st, 2013 at the Cambridge Battery in Point Pleasant Park. Tickets are PWYC (with a suggested donation price of $20.00 per person) and seating is first come, first serve beginning 30 minutes before the performance. Chairs can be rented for $2.00 and there is blanket space available for you to bring your own seat. New this year, the best seats in the house can now be reserved for $25.00 as part of the Sweet Seats Program. For more information please visit this website.