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A Dark But Wonderful Snow White

company-xivWhen I was the artistic director of a theater company for young children, I co-wrote a stage adaption of the Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White.”  After it was performed a board member approached me and said that she wished that play writes would tell the original story.

I looked at her and said, “You mean have the evil queen eat lungs and liver that she thinks are Snow White’s? And, in the end, have the evil queen dance to her death on hot iron shoes?”

She looked at me in horror and said “Oh no. That’s not the story.”

I wanted to shake her and say, “You mean that’s not the Walt Disney’s version?”

Rest assured, Company XIV’s stellar Snow White is not the Disney version. Choreographer and Director Austin McCormick has faithfully adapted the dark Grimm tale — and added in some bondage, acrobatics, puppets, singing, clever use of live video projections, pole dancing and (if you were lucky) lap dancing.

What is truly wonderful about Company XIV’s productions are the marvelous choreography, the incredible performances, the astounding acrobatics, the cleverly designed costumes (or lack of in some cases) and the excellent use of space.

The dancers are amazing — with not a weak link in the bunch. Special shout-outs to Laura Careless, who commands the stage as the evil queen; Courtney Giannone, who’s performance on the Cyr wheel, is incredible; and Davon Rainey  made my night with his lap dance. The rest of this tight, talented company includes Hill Bodin, Marisol Cabrera, Lea Helle, Nicholas Katen, Malik Shabazz Kitchen, Mark Osmudsen and Marcy Richardson (who wowed me with her opera singing while pole dancing in Company XIV’s Cinderella).

My only qualm with the production (which is the same qualm I had with Company XIV’s entire season) is Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew’s atmospheric but very dim lighting. I was in the fourth row, and I had to strain my eyes for most of the evening to see the performers and costumes. There were times when the stage was completely dark (and it wasn’t for a scene change).

It seems to be that there is an artistic trend off-Broadway and beyond that has lighting designers lighting shows for people with perfect night vision. Atmospheric lighting does not have to be incredibly dim. I wish this trend would go away, and lighting designers would start lighting shows so people can see the excellent work of performers, directors, choreographers, set designers and costume designers. Just because the show is thematically dark, it doesn’t mean that show has to literally be dark!

That said, I can’t wait to see Company XIV’s next production — even if it means that my eyes will be tired when I get home.

Snow White runs through March 12 at the Minneta Lane Theater in New York City. Learn more here.

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