Millbrook’s ‘Snow White’ takes you to the land of make believe
Within minutes of the start of “Snow White,” you’ll be transported to the Land of Make Believe.
The table where you’re sitting in Millbrook’s Poorman Courtyard will become part of the primeval forest, the place where the imagination of childhood has located its most enduring and endearing stories. It’s a place familiar to all of us who spent a good many Saturdays when we were kids putting on “a show” with our friends, where an old tablecloth could serve one minute as a hero’s cape and the next minute as a flowing ball gown, where we could practice falling on our faces, creating mischief, defeating the forces of evil, and trying on a whole series of new and interesting personas — all in the space of an afternoon.
“Snow White,” written by Greg Banks, is defined as a play for young people. But the entire audience, whose ages when I went ranged from four to 80, were thoroughly entranced as the two actors, Joshua Glover and Katelyn Loss, set about — with the barest of props — creating an imaginative retelling of this age-old story. All the landmarks are here: the castle, the talking mirror, the little house in the woods where the Seven Dwarfs have their home. But as Joshua and Katelyn exchange roles as easily as changing hats, the personalities of the main characters become more complex, lending a wonderful texture to the fairy tale.
Here’s the huntsman, who is torn between his need to keep his job as the vain queen’s go-to guy and his empathy for Snow White, who happens to be the same age as his daughter. Here’s the prince, who is arrogant enough to assume that his kiss will bring Snow White back to life, that she will fall into his arms, and that his faulty version of events is the only one worth repeating.
And here are the Seven Dwarfs themselves.
The play begins with an anxious moment as Joshua, in his character as “actor,” bemoans the fact that the dwarfs are a no-show. How can the two of them do the play without them? But the audience, when called upon to vote, votes in favor of doing it anyway, with the young folks calling out especially loudly. And we’re off. By the time the dwarfs are set to appear, we’ve been completely charmed by the actors’ versatility and are convinced that a way will be found to bring the little people to life. And come to life they do!
Joshua, who appeared previously this summer in “Elephant and Piggie’s We’re In a Play” and “Yours Sincerely,” continues to impress as, with a twist of his baseball cap, he brings to life all seven personalities, each of whom has a unique perspective on Snow White’s presence in their little home. It’s a tour de force performance, enhanced by Joshua’s physical flexibility which allows him to capture, with well-timed gesture, their fleeting tensions, jousting and rough-housing as well as their distinguishing traits.
The two actors easily share the emotional range of the play, with Joshua’s hint-of -the-Irish narrator grounding us in the security of the well-told story, and Katelyn’s welcoming invitations to the audience to dance, take a selfie and share in her knock-knock jokes allowing us to enter in. It was wonderful to see how readily the children in the audience responded. At one point, commenting on the fact that Joshua was playing the queen, a little girl cried out, “You’re not a woman!” and without missing a beat, Joshua replied, “I am.”
We’re left, at the end of the play, with the delightful notion that we aren’t required ourselves to perform the old, time-worn narratives but can try on an abundance of roles, restricted only by the limits of our own imaginations. The two “actors” end the play by saying, jubilantly, “We did it! We played everyone!” And indeed they did. Beautifully.
Director and costume designer Michaela Barczak must be commended for her imaginative direction, along with Kayla Shutters and Walter Pigford for set design, and V.C. Deener for props design.
There will be one more performance at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7.
Get your tickets now. “Snow White” is a complete delight.
Karen Elias lives in Swissdale. She taught English for more than 30 years, most recently at Lock Haven
University and Penn College.