Reviewed by Shelly L. Hoffman
The Kearsley Park Players, under the nurturing direction of Kay Kelly, reprised Megan Donahue’s cleverly scripted Snow White Thursday to a jam-packed pavilion. On blankets (lovingly added by Kelly for the youngest of theatre-goers) at the foot of the stage were veritable droves of youngsters (including many princesses and even a pirate, presumably gearing up for the upcoming production of Pirates of Penzance) who were, for the most part, mesmerized by the story that unfolded right in front of them. The adults and older children who sat on the more comfortable chairs also seemed to thoroughly enjoy the evening’s offering (all 21 minutes of it).
Donahue’s adaptation of this age-old tale of the princess Snow White (played wistfully by Ella Thorp), cast away by an evil queen who then murders the princess with a poisoned apple all because a magic mirror told the queen Snow White is more fair than she, offers witty dialogue, a meaningful relationship between Snow White and the Prince, as well as a rational explanation of how (spoiler alert!) the prince’s kiss brings Snow White back to life.
The narrative is propelled and sustained by the Magic Mirror (Amber Dillard) who, at first, reassures the Evil Queen that she is the fairest in the land. When the mirror proclaims Snow White to be fairer still, the Queen, who is always humorously accompanied by her sassy ladies in waiting, orders her killed. Snow White, though, is left alone in a forest, asleep. While in the forest she encounters a bevy of woodland creatures. Here, Kelly utilizes small children (including, incredibly, three sets of twins) to play foxes, mice, rabbits, and other furry creatures as well as disarmingly adorable butterflies. Seven Lumberjacks then take center stage to adopt and care for the abandoned princess.
Snow White also meets the handsome prince (George Marzonie) in the forest and they build a loving friendship as she rebuffs his daily proposals of marriage. Marzonie’s interesting dance moves brought much laughter to the opening night audience.
Jessica Eldredge portrays the Queen with, at first, mild haughtiness. She then becomes downright menacing, yet comical, as she disguises herself as a peddler to cajole Snow White to take the poisoned apple with the promise that it’s not poisoned, “not even a little bit.”
When the prince sees Snow White dead on the forest floor, he yearns to give her one last kiss. We learn that “the tilting of her head dislodged the apple from her throat” and that is what brings our princess back to life. And, of course, there is a happily ever after.
Kelly uses the space to paint a very pretty picture, even if it was obscured for a bit by the sun in the patrons’ eyes. As always, the show is beautifully costumed with lavish gowns, inventive animals, and Snow White looking as if she walked straight out of the well-known animated film of the same name. (Many of the children lined up after to have their photos taken with her and for autographs.)
What is always so striking about the Kearsley Park theatre experience is the vast diversity of participants and attendees alike. It’s thrilling to see so many people come together, in the heart of Flint, for a night of entertainment. Additionally, the fairytale is, quite often, the very first play a youngster attends. With such a wonderful experience for the little ones, it likely won’t be the last.
Snow White continues Friday, July 11th at Linden’s Clover Beach; 3 pm Saturday, July 12th at For Mar Nature Preserve and 7 pm at Flushing County Park. It closes on Sunday, July 13th with a 3 pm performance in Flint’s Mott