Full disclosure: I arrived late to the Children's Theater Company’s latest show, Snow White. I was four minutes behind and, based on the rest of the show, that means I probably missed at least four laugh breaks from the comedic duo Dean Holt and Joy Dolo. By themselves, the two performers tell the story of Snow White. Each switches from character to character with brilliant efficiency and consistent, but not gratuitous, fourth wall breaks to ensure that they know that we know that everybody’s having a good time. The show takes a fairy tale classic and fills it with a new kind of magic thanks to its interesting construction.
We all know the fairy tale Snow White and all of its main characters: a girl, an evil stepmother, a magic mirror, and of course, seven dwarves. Ordinarily, that would make for a rather large cast, but because Dolo and Holt are the only performers on stage we see them change characters at the drop of a hat in order to tell a story that should, conservatively, require around 10 people. The character work is incredibly done, and because the two each play every role, including that of the narrator, a comedic harmony is felt throughout the show. For example, Holt’s evil stepmother is snide and cunning while Dolo’s is boisterous and cruel. Seeing them both play her means you get twice as many jokes from and about the evil stepmother without it seeming obsessive or tired. It’s the best of both worlds and it is done for every character (besides the Huntsman, but honestly did you even remember the Huntsman in Snow White?).
The team of Dolo and Holt know they are performing in a play by themselves, they also know this is uncommon and that the version of Snow White they’re telling is different from the Disney alternative. Their fourth wall breaks occur throughout the show and are one part world-building and one part joke-telling. Seeing Holt gasp at the idea of playing all seven dwarves is hysterical and watching Dolo explain why Snow White really woke up is necessary (but also a little funny). The breaks are a real treat and insure the energy in the theater is always high.
While the acting in the show was fantastic, special recognition must go to Mikhail Kachman for his phenomenal set. The space, built to accommodate a multitude of settings without changing, was a playground and a marvel. There is a massive house tree containing a perfect window for looking down as well as a canopy that held sound designer/composer Victor Zupanc, standing before a glenn that held tree stumps and a well-placed log. The greenery moved from reality to illusion with painted branches on the ground beneath real branches hanging from the ceiling. The entire set was painted with a palette borrowed from nature to instill the love and delight Snow White felt as she ran away from home.
Snow White is a show we all know, but thanks to the work of these incredible artists it becomes the show we desire. With comedic ingenuity and artistic construction, this fairy tale classic feels alive and new. Just be sure to get there on time.