If you’re looking for an alternative to the avalanche of pantomimes that will be hitting London this Christmas, The Snow Queen at the Rose could be right up your street.
When Gerda discovers she is a Child of Magic and accidentally reveals her whereabouts to the evil Snow Queen, her best friend Kai is lured away to the Frozen North and into the Queen’s grasp.
Harnessing her powers, Gerda must then set off on a rescue mission to save both Kai and Christmas.
Cast members Davina Moon (Freya), Parisa Shahmir (Gerda) and Jack Wolfe (Kai) spoke to South West Londoner to tell us what audiences can expect from this Rose original production.
The production differs greatly from a traditional pantomime, and the actors see this as a real asset.
Davina said: “It’s quite a sophisticated form of production. It’s a little bit dark at times, you’ll come out feeling good at the end. You might doubt that halfway through, but you definitely will come out feeling good at the end!”
Parisa added: “It’s very different I think to the other Christmas shows or pantomimes that will be on in London.
“You lack the song sheet moment or all these kinds of things that you would expect from a pantomime but actually there’s excitement and there’s adventure and there’s magic and suspense.
“It really is going to be a brilliant day out for everybody at Christmas, and nice to come and see something a little bit different.”
Not only is it different to the pantomimes on offer this festive season, but The Snow Queen itself is very on-trend right now, Davina remarked, with Frozen 2 out in cinemas and the musical adaptation of the first film set to hit the West End next year.
Writer and director Ciaran McConville’s spin on Hans Christian Anderson’s classic fairytale throws some new characters into the mix, including Freya, the manager of the orphanage which houses Gerda who knows more than she may let on about the mysterious Snow Queen, as well as a puppet reindeer named Bancu, who Wolfe assured is very exciting.
He said: “I promise you it will probably be most people’s favourite character!”
Despite some differences though, McConville’s production stays faithful to what is at the heart of The Snow Queen tale.
Parisa said: “There’re a couple of differences in the writing to give it that Christmas show edge, but I think it’s still very true to what everybody loves as The Snow Queen.”
She added: “It’s very much about love but also about friendship.”
Jack concurred: “In what is such a high fantasy and such a huge adventure, Kai and Gerda’s relationship in our production to me seems incredibly realistic. It’s really subtle.”
The adult cast of six is joined by alternating ensembles of 22 and 23 young actors from the Rose Youth Theatre.
Though they range in age from just 10 to 22 years old, their professionalism has shone through in rehearsal.
Davina said: “We came into our first day of rehearsals and they were all off-book, knew the choreography and the blocking, knew their lines – it was just really quite intimidating!
“But they’re really sweet, lovely young people.”
Jack added: “There’s such an abundance of energy and inspiration.”
The presence of the youth theatre members is also an opportunity for young audience members to be inspired.
Parisa said: “As a young person, coming to watch other kids of your age on a stage could be a really inspiring thing.
“To have a contemporary when you’re 12 years old of someone on the stage and you think, “They’re doing that, I could do that too” – I think that’s brilliant.”
Davina agreed: “I think it’s so healthy for children to be exposed to the arts at such a young age.”
So what can audiences expect from The Snow Queen this Christmas?
With puppetry, magic and original music, audiences can look forward to embarking on a great adventure.
Jack enthused: “It has so much heart.”
The Snow Queen is playing at the Rose Theatre Kingston from December 13 to January 5, with previews beginning December 6.