Snow White at the Arden Children’s Theatre: A Review

The classic tale has a new production at the Arden Theatre
Photo courtesy of the Arden Theatre

Walk into the Arden Theatre, and step right into a unique version of the Enchanted Forest. The stage is set simply: A house, trees, a table, a stool, and a trunk of clothes, but what unfolds over the course of an hour is a bit of interesting, although at times chaotic, magic as this entire adaptation of the classic tale of Snow White is brought to life by just two actors.

 

The classic tale of Snow White involves a princess, an evil queen, a huntsman, a magic mirror and seven dwarves.  What’s most notable about the Arden Theatre's rendition is that all of these parts are created by two actors. Yep, all those parts, all those characters, are brought to life by just two very talented actors.

The show opens with Snow White singing sadly to herself. She’s joined by the male actor of the show, who presents himself as “4,” leaving audience members to wonder which dwarf he’s supposed to be. Later, we’ll see that he takes on the part of all seven. The play quickly becomes interactive, as the actor asks the audience if they’re ready to start, to which the kids excitedly respond.

While it was fun to see the actors take on many different roles, it did seem a bit chaotic at times. Kids definitely got a laugh out of the male actor portraying the Evil Queen. With both actors commanding the stage the entire time, they seamlessly wove between characters, sometimes playing same one, including the main character, Snow White.

Although it did seem like additional actors were missing on stage, one of the most memorable moments was when the actor played all seven of the dwarves by changing his body language and his voice. We quickly saw each personality, without ever hearing their names. But we did have to wonder how many kids in the audience expected to see those seven dwarves as part of the show.

Photo courtesy of the Arden Theatre

The story is a classic tale from start to finish. The kids were able to exercise their imaginations as they visualized two actors transcend race and gender to portray different roles. Throughout it all, the audience felt involved. When the actor in a long beard first came out as the Evil Queen, the audience laughed. Whether or not that part was intentional, overall, each character change was seamless.

But this is not your traditional Disney fairytale. There were some dark elements throughout the show. At one point, the huntsman character has to kill a pig, albeit imaginary. However, with the sound effects being quite realistic, the theater grew even a bit more silent.  Almost immediately after, the actress playing the Evil Queen “eats" what she believed is the lungs and liver of Snow White. Aside from the dark elements, there are a few nice song and dance numbers, and a lot of quirky jokes that bring a fun energy to the stage.  

The runtime was just over an hour, with no intermission. Most of the kids there were around six or seven. Due to the layout of the theater, it may be difficult to exit during the show depending on your seat. After each performance, the cast stayed on stage for a post-show Q+A session where kids asked questions about how parts of the show came together. It’s optional to stick around for that, so if your kids are ready to go, you can slip out then. The actors also had a meet-and-greet and took photos with kids in the lobby after the show.

Snow White runs at The Arden Theatre through June 3, 2018. Tickets range from $20 to $36 and can be purchased online.

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Arden Theatre
40 N 2nd St
19106 Philadelphia , PA
Phone: (215) 922-1122
39° 57' 4.3812" N, 75° 8' 38.0832" W
Pennsylvania