Thanks to the Chilren's Summer Theater Workshop at the Everett Theatre, the story of Snow White is getting a bit of an overhaul. Fans of the fairy tale will find the sweet, sappy Disney details gone, having been replaced by modern music and tongue-in-cheek humor fit for a princess who finds love and friendship in the unlikeliness of places.
The Children's Summer Theater Workshop, hosted by the Everett Theatre, is breathing new life into an old tale with "The Rockin' Tale of Snow White" this weekend. Of course, all the necessary characters are included, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to the Evil Queen and her Magic Mirror. Prince Charming is there, too, doing his best to woo his princess but there's a problem. Well, actually there are two problems: one is handsome and strong while the other is dashing. And, all three are vying for Snow White's attention.
The workshop production consists of 50 local children, from 8 to 15 years old, who have all been busy for the better part of the last three weeks learning what it takes to stage a full-scale musical, from dancing and singing to blocking and dialogue.
"I'm thrilled with the level of talent that came out to the workshop this year," said Director Nikki Fernandez.
Musical Director Valerie Beardsley agreed, adding that she thinks that "audiences will be able to see how hard the children have worked and will get a kick out of this modern take on a classic story."
As the person in charge of the show's music, Beardsley has much to do with the contemporary touches, culling together hip-hop, rock and country for a young cast and a modern audience that hungers to hear songs that are simultaneously familiar and fresh.
Beardsley and Fernandez also agreed that none of the modern hints would work without a dedicated group of backstage crew members and volunteers. Behind-the-scenes, Cheryl Shields and Maureen Ernst head up a ragtag team, who prefer operating the spotlight rather than shining underneath it. Working together, Shields and Ernst make sure the kids get hands-on experience in designing, building and painting everything from sets and scenery to props while also imparting lessons that illuminate what makes theater productions seem so magical, thanks to those sets, lights and sound.
Volunteers also have a heavy hand in making sure the curtain rises each summer, with both teens and adults providing hundreds of hours of unpaid support through ticket sales, costume creation and maintenance and help with programs.
Sometimes those volunteers come from the community but, occasionally, volunteers like Tanya Fried also make the trek from somewhere unexpected. Fried is a college student majoring in production design at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Being an intern at CSTW has enabled her to utilize skills from classes she's taken while also gaining new skills and experience.
"It starts with the little things that nobody notices," Fried said to explain what she does as an intern. "I've been glad to help where needed, from costuming a magical flower vine to the dwarves' headboard."
Mostly, though, all the adults, from the directors to the volunteers, seem to be focused on making sure that the participants have as much as possible while learning a little something about the theater.
"It's a lot of fun to act with your friends and meet new people," said Angela Livingston, a CSTW performer for the last seven years.
When the curtain finally does rise Friday night, the story will commence with a modern-day mother reading a classic Grimm Brothers tale to her restless children. Unlike other fairy tales, though, the CSTW version stays firmly planted in the present as the imaginations of the children take flight, altering the classic tale in a way that makes it relatable for present-day girls and boys who are familiar with the original tale of the exiled princess, hated and hunted by her step-mother, who ultimately finds love and friendship in the unlikeliest of places.
"With its tongue-in-cheek humor and catchy songs, this is a rockin' musical you don't want to miss," said Beardsley.