Children’s Theatre warms up to ‘The Snow Queen’

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Gerda, played by Kayla Mercer, 12, of Magnolia, center, protects Kay, played by Giovanni Harding, 12, of Dover, from the evil Snow Queen played by Luana Spalluto, 15, of Dover during Wednesday’s rehearsal for The Children’s Theatre’s production of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen” set for next weekend at Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to last weekend’s storm, this performance has been rescheduled for Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 31 at 3 p.m.

DOVER –– The Children’s Theatre, Inc. is bringing the classic Danish fairy tale “The Snow Queen” to the stage next weekend in a show at Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts.

The tale is one of a struggle between good and evil. The evil title character, the Snow Queen, makes it her mission to turn as many people into cold-hearted lovers of misery just like her.

The Snow Queen’s minions, the Flurries, take on the role of the chorus and carry out her wishes. They use a magical mirror to make happy lives as bad as the Snow Queen’s. When anyone views themselves in the mirror or is struck with a shard of the mirror once it’s broken, the worst of them is brought out, making them hate everything and everyone they once loved.

This unfortunate curse is brought upon the young Kay while he is playing with his cousin Gerda in the snowy woods. The two are best friends but when he is affected by the mirror, he becomes hateful and alienates Gerda until he’s swept away by the Flurries and held captive by the Snow Queen.

The story follows the fantastic journey Gerda takes to find her cousin.

“She goes to a lot of different places and meets a lot of different people and even becomes friends with an arctic fox and a crow who guide her along the way,” said 12-year-old Kayla Mercer playing the role of Gerta. “She almost gets kidnapped a couple times too.”

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From left, the Snow Queen’s Flurries are Slush, played by Avery Young, 12, of Dover; Shiver, played by Micah Glasser, 9, of Dover; Blizzard played by Nia Allen, 14, of Dover; Frostbite, played by Lamont Pierce, 16, of Dover; Bluster played by Lillian Mandalas, 10, of Dover; Whirlwind played by Jonah Cerri, 14, of Felton; and Gosebump, played by Jazsmin Johnson, 17, of Dover.

The play is based off the story of the same name written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1844.

“We saw this script and unlike other versions that only called for 10 or 15 actors, it had about 30, so it seemed like a perfect fit for us,” said the show’s director, Carol-Ann Harding.

This is the first time the Children’s Theatre has presented the tale and Ms. Harding said the first time with any play is always a great experience.

“It’s really like a blank page you get to work with because you don’t have anything in mind about what it should be, so we get to be really creative with it,” she said.

“All the ideas we have are so fresh.”

And that’s one of the main reasons Giovanni Harding who plays Kayla’s cousin Kay likes acting.

“Plays are always a lot of fun,” he said.

“Just getting to be a different person and all the characters you play are different so it’s always something new.”

He’s also home schooled so Giovanni said being involved in the Children’s Theatre gives him a good opportunity to meet other kids around his age.

Giovanni has been acting for five years and his co-star Kayla has been acting for about two. For her, the best part of acting is meeting new people outside of school.

“Well I’m in seventh grade and everyone’s not always nice at school but I come here for rehearsal and everyone’s always really friendly and it’s fun to get to open up and act a little crazy here,” she said.

Fifteen-year-old Luana Spalluto plays the title character and is also home schooled. She thinks performing at the Children’s Theatre is a better opportunity than a school theater program.

“If it’s a school show, you’re only working with your classmates but here you’re acting with kids from all over the area and of a wide age range. It’s not the type of group you’d be able to experience at school,” she said.

“The Snow Queen” is her third play with the Children’s Theatre and she explained that the Queen isn’t just an evil character.

“I think she’s not only very evil, she’s confused and conflicted –– a person who’s really shut the world away so she’s

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From left, Reindeer, played by Jane Allen, 16, of Clayton; Gerde, played by Kayla Mercer, 12, of Magnolia; Crow, played by Moses Scober, 17, of Dover; and Arctic Fox, played by Emily Peppard, 11 of Dover.

an interesting character to play,” Luana said.

“Playing her gets me out of my comfort zone.”

“Getting the kids out of their comfort zone is one of the best parts of directing,” Ms. Harding said.

“I love seeing these kids’ progression from someone who’s maybe a little shy to someone who’s discovering and following a creative side of themselves they wouldn’t find outside theater.”

She added that some of the kids she’s directed have followed acting or other creative paths like art or dancing into college and even into a career.

“It’s just great to see what they can accomplish whether it’s a goal they have just here in a play or a goal they have in their life,” Ms. Harding said.

The actors, who range in age from 7 to 17, take the stage on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 24 at 3 p.m. at the Schwartz Center, 226 S. State St. in Dover.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by visiting schwartzcenter.com, the box office or calling 678-5152.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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