It's probably no coincidence that I am a winter girl. My father served in the ski troops in WWII and my mother met him in Aspen, learning to ski. They settled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where epic snowstorms were good for business, not reason for cancellations.
So here I am, craving SNOW.
Was it coincidence that it came on Saturday morning, as we prepared to head to Portland Stage Company to see The Snow Queen?
Some berry ornaments remain for the winter birds, but the dusting of snow didn't last. Yet, the magic was just beginning.
Anita Stewart and her team of merry makers have outdone themselves with this marvelous production!
Marty had a taste working a couple of days back stage, painting props, as the design team scrambled to pull together the ambitious show. He nudged me every time something came out that he painted.
The story sweeps seamlessly through multiple tales of the journey of a young girl in search of her friend under the spell of the Snow Queen. The sets, costumes, music, and performances are altogether stunning.
I am still transfixed. The costumes by Susan Thomas are still in my head, so I've sketched them. Patricia Buckley as the Snow Queen was commanding, and she showed sly comedic talents in her many other roles, too.
My other favorite character is Ba, played masterfully by Daniel Noel.
And the Robber Girl, whew, SHE was fierce. Played to the hilt by Sally Wood. I'd join her band any day.
Portland Stage always does a grand job of offering background material and context on the play.
Anita Stewart drew inspiration from many sources, and specifically from a book of the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, richly illustrated by Ukrainian artist, Vladyslav Yerka.
I went looking for a curious book given to me awhile ago, Christine's Picture Book, a reproduction of a hand-made picture book by Hans Christian Andersen and Grandfather Drewsen. Andersen made several of these scrapbooks for various children of family friends, with pictures cut from the many periodicals gaining popularity at the time, for amusement and as prompts for story-telling.
The very first plate is from a theater program.
Imagine two grown men, sitting around cutting and collaging, and Andersen writing in little rhymes intended for the 3 year-old Christina, the granddaughter of his friend, Adolph Drewsen, a magistrate in Copenhagen during the mid 1800's.
This plate gets this description:
It is entirely in keeping with Andersen's feeling for the theatre that this book begins with the programme of an entertainment and a scene in the theatre. As a boy he sang in the chorus at the opera and studied at the Royal Theatre ballet school, and the stage continued to fascinate him all his life. He must have attended thousands of performances, yet was never successful as a playwright.
Hans, Anita has done you proud. I know your spirit is in the wings!
Although Andersen was not a painter, he was gifted as a visual creative. Love this crazy page. The good cheer of fellow man, one with a crown, the other with a trophy, shines.
Andersen was also famous for his paper crafts, and there are five included in the book. This one's my favorite.
The Snow Queen lifted us to extraordinary heights of fantasy and enchantment. We left Portland Stage in merry moods, and spied this holiday tradition that added to our delight.
Now I am finding magic everywhere. Look, a reindeer! We can ride to the Snow Queen's castle.
And you may not see him in this photo, but Ba is waiting for me behind this door, with his fur hat and antlers, and a glass of nog.
Snip, snap, snout, this story is out.