Tompkins Weekly Staff
If it is the holiday season, it must be time for the Cherry Arts’ production of “The Snow Queen.”
The Cherry’s version of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale (which inspired Disney’s Frozen) was developed last year by members of the Cherry Arts company; the result was a unique theatrical production featuring a variety of theater styles and something for all ages – which quickly sold out.
The popular response from the community inspired the Cherry to bring its version back to audiences, and will offer 12 performances between Dec. 7-23. All of the shows will take place at the new Cherry Artspace, located at 102 Cherry St., which opened its doors this summer.
“The Snow Queen” tells the story of Greta, a brave young girl on a mission to rescue her best friend Kai from the clutches of the evil Queen, encountering along the way a friendly reindeer, a chatty raven, a feisty robber girl, and a host of other curious characters. Guests this year will enjoy Andersen’s enchanted tale with more songs, all-new puppets, and even more magic.
The Cherry’s version, written by Cherry Artistic Director Samuel Buggeln (who also directs), with original music from Paul Leschen and original lyrics by Cornell professor and National Book Award finalist Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon.
This year, all-new puppets and shadow puppets have been created by the team, based on original drawings by Ithaca-based fantasy illustrator Rachel Terwilliger. Limited-edition coloring books featuring Rachel’s marvelous character designs will be available at all performances.
“In the Cherry’s ‘Snow Queen,’ we are aiming to capture the real magic of the original,” said Buggeln. “Andersen’s tale is something like Alice in Wonderland, full of weird and wonderful imagery that doesn’t necessarily add up to a conventional narrative.
“We wove Andersen’s fantastical events into a story that is magical and engaging for both adults and children,” he added, “without losing the delicious disorientation of the original.”
With “The Snow Queen,” The Cherry has created a constantly-evolving holiday piece to stage annually.
“Every year we will innovate a little bit more, and make it a little more special and a little more unusual. Something to come back to every holiday season,” said Buggeln. “And it’s a thrill to be presenting the work in our very own space this year.”
Local favorite Erica Steinhagen returns to the cast of The Snow Queen, reprising the title role she originated last season.
“Coming together again to develop this show even further, adding songs, more amazing puppetry, and creating an even more magical show has been such a joyful time with this beautiful cast,” she said. “We can’t wait to share it!”
In addition to Steinhagen, the cast includes Joshua Altenburg, Helen T. Clark, Jeffrey Guyton, Camilla Schade, Megan Schmidt, Lucia Vecchio and Joshua Wilde. The creative team for The Snow Queen includes Lisa Boquist (costume coordinator), Nancy Radloff (music director), E.D. Intemann (lighting design), Norm Scott and Sergey Levitskiy (sound and video design) and Rachel Terwilliger (illustrations).
Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children under age 14, and can be purchased at TheCherry.org. Evening shows begin at 7 p.m., and weekend matinees – which are all followed by a special opportunity to meet the show’s puppets and puppeteers – start at 2 p.m. There will be a preview performance on Thursday, December 7, and the opening night performance on Friday, December 8, will be followed by a reception with the artists. Other performances will take place:
— Saturday, December 9 – 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
— Sunday, December 10 – 2 p.m.
— Friday, December 15 – 7 p.m.
— Saturday, December 16 – 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
— Sunday, December 17 – 2 p.m.
— Friday, December 22 – 7 p.m.
— Saturday, December 23 – 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The Cherry Arts, Ithaca’s newest professional performing arts organization, is a not-for-profit theatre company; for more information, visit TheCherry.org.