‘The Snow Queen’ was charming.
Just off the Gold Coast Highway, tucked along the beautiful coast of Tweed Heads, is the friendly and welcoming Tweed Theatre Company. For their first production of 2020, the theatre group has produced a locally written adaptation of the musical ‘The Snow Queen’ and performed it at the Tweeds Heads Civic Centre.
Based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen comes Natalie Trengove’s adaptation of ‘The Snow Queen’. When Gerda’s brother Kaye disappears, she sets out to find him. However, unknown to Gerda, the sad and lonely Snow Queen has kidnapped him to be the son she has always wanted. Will Gerda find him? Will Kaye want to leave the Palace to go back and live with his sister and grandmother again? The Snow Queen’ answers these questions in a charming production that audiences will enjoy.
Lighting design by Doug Williams used white lights to set the tone for the icicle world, making the room feel cold when necessary. There were a lot of blackouts when changing scenes, which could have been minimised to tighten flow. Despite the show having no live band, backing tracks created by Jed Stone were of good quality. Adding some extra instruments to the tracks, however, could have produced a fuller sound.
Set design by Doug Williams was limited and minimalistic. A projection screen gave audiences a sense of location. At times, the projection detracted from the scene, as it didn’t fit the stage and often the actors weren’t completely in front of the image. However, a standout moment occurred when revealing the Snow Queen’s sleigh, and this was beautifully imagined. The transitions and changing of props between each scene were both very smooth and the backstage crew should be commended for their hard work. Costuming by Gary Johns was stunningly designed for the production and was used effectively to establish the scene.
Director Natalie Trengove should be complimented for her work in writing and directing her own piece. While additional dialogue could have helped the audience get to know the characters better and develop their individual story arcs, overall, her script told the original story well and was very entertaining. Trengove’s version was very similar to the classic Danish tale of good and evil, with a few extra twists here and there.
While in a picturesque location, with cabaret-style seating, the layout made it difficult to see the stage, as seating was offset and the stage was a lot higher than the level of chairs. This made the back of the stage harder to see. It might have worked in the production’s favour to have tiered seating so that the audience could look down on such a high stage and be able to see all the action, including the back of the stage where a majority of the dialogue took place.
Trengove’s blocking was simple, as there were no set pieces in the way of characters and actors could easily move around the small stage. Smooth transitions ensured none of the characters looked unsure of where they were meant to be and looked confident in their placement. Due to the size of the stage, at times, it could have helped to fill the stage further with more set pieces or even use the ensemble more.
Choreographer, Cherie Goosey, crafted routines to suit the ability of the cast. Dance numbers were simple but looked slick and well-rehearsed. Although some movements didn’t sit in time with the music, the still worked on many levels. The ‘Gypsy Dance’ was a highlight, as it utilised the full ensemble on stage, dancing together and choreographed brilliantly.
Musical Direction by Kim Dobbie was skilful, although there were limited harmonies heard. The ensemble did a fabulous job together, acting with purpose, but sometimes needed a little bit more energy to liven up the audience. The solo songs were delivered with confidence. It’s not an easy job teaching brand new music or a new musical to a group who have never heard it before, but Dobbie should be praised for delivering the songs with ease.
The original score was composed by Jim Furry, who crafted brand new songs for Tweed Theatre Company’s production, including, ‘Gypsies in You’, which was a great moment musically as it fitted the setting of the scene. This particular number, once again, involved the ensemble and was very suited to ‘Carols the King of the Gypsies’ played by Sean O’Hara. The creative team, as a whole, should be commended for providing a fresh, fun and entertaining production.
Standout performances included Lilly Harding as Gerda, who added a nice richness to her acting abilities. Harding portrayed her worrying character extremely delightfully and really convinced the audience. Her line delivery was also flawless and she had a strong and beautiful tone to her voice.
Jean Watson as Grandmother was the perfect ‘motherly’ figure and embodied a caring and nurturing role truthfully. Princess Cally played by Audrey O’Donnell Parr was a strong actress, who worked the room with determination and charm. The Snow Queen herself, played by Justine Sinclair, had a sweet voice but was difficult to hear at times and could have used more projection.
Tweed Theatre Company’s ‘The Snow Queen’ was an entertaining musical, perfect for a family outing. As a charming production, it is always thrilling to see locally written and produced work make its way onto the main stage. For a reasonable ticket price, ‘The Snow Queen’ will warm the audience’s hearts.
‘The Snow Queen’ performs until Sunday, 22 March 2020. For tickets, visit Tweed Theatre Company’s website or call 1800 674 414.