Based on Hans Christian Andersen's beloved fairy tale, the show was co-created by Smith ("Dead Egyptian Blues"), director Frank Galati (Ragtime) and master puppeteer Blair Thomas & Co.
Victory Gardens' second world premiere in its new home in the historic Biograph Theater, The Snow Queen "is a spine-tingling swirl of snowflakes, eye-popping puppetry and stagecraft, warm storytelling, and a chillingly beautiful score, all combining to tell Andersen's immortal tale of innocence, love and loss," according to VGT.
The Snow Queen begins previews Dec. 1, opens Dec. 11, and continues to Jan. 7, 2007.
The plot is this: "Young Gerda and Kai are the best of childhood friends, but tragedy strikes when Kai's eye and heart are pierced with frozen shards from the Devil's mirror, and the loving boy Gerda knew vanishes. The Snow Queen has put him under her trance and spirited Kai away to her palace of snow and ice. Talking animals, wooden soldiers, witches, and lost children swirl in her mysterious spell. But it is up to Gerda to brave the Snow Queen's icy ire and bring Kai home to the love that awaits him." The Snow Queen is the first artistic collaboration of Michael Smith, Frank Galati and Blair Thomas. Expect "wickedly humorous lyrics, and romantic and moving songs of the heart."
Smith was represented at VGT with past hits Michael, Margaret, Pat & Kate in 1994, which won four Joseph Jefferson Awards, and Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal, a world premiere folk music revue performed in 2000.
Smith also wrote the music for acclaimed director Frank Galati's staging of The Grapes of Wrath at Steppenwolf, which transferred to Broadway and won two Tony Awards (Best Direction and Best Play).
Blair Thomas is founder of Blair Thomas & Co, and co-founder and former artistic director of Chicago's Redmoon Theater.
Galati directed Broadway's Ragtime and is directing the Broadway-bound The Pirate Queen. His Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein won the 2006 Jeff for Best New Work (Musical).
Book is by Michael Smith, Frank Galati and Blair Thomas.
The cast features Cheryl Lynn Bruce (The Storyteller), Mattie Hawkinson (Gerda) and Andrew Keltz (Kai).
Puppets and visual design are by Blair Thomas & Co. Additional designers are Tatjana Radisic (costumes), Jenna McDanold (lights) and Joe Cerqua (sound). The live band includes Barbara Barrow, Kat Eggleston, Scott Hirtenstein, Linda M. Smith and Chris Walz. Tina M. Jach is production stage manager.
Blair Thomas & Co is represented by on-stage puppeteers Jayson Rackley, Erik Wetz and Barbara Whitney, and off-stage by Ben Matchstick (puppet direction) and Meredith Miller (puppet design).
The Snow Queen band is a who's who of Chicago folk music: Barbara Barrow (keyboards/vocal), Kat Eggleston (guitar/vocal), Scott Hirtenstein (drums and percussion), Linda M. Smith (keyboard/vocal), Chris Walz (guitar/vocal).
For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens box office, (773) 871-3000, or visit http://www.victorygardens.org.
For more about Michael Smith visit, http://www.michaelsmithmusic.com.