The tale of a girl with skin white as snow, lips the color of blood and hair as black as night is captivating and legendary. She had a heart of pure gold amongst the shadows of evil and greed that
threatened to end her life.
The premiere night of the anticipated Eastern Michigan University production of “White as Snow, Red as Blood: The Story of Snow White” was Nov. 30 in Quirk Theatre. This particular adaptation, written by V. Glasgow Koste, gave an interesting twist to the beloved fairytale with a more mystical and often eerie feel. Set inside the giant frame of a mirror, it connects with the evil queen’s philosophy that mirrors show you who you really are.
In the story, there’s a twist to the character Queen Evilun, which showcased the conflicting sides of her identity: Her obsession with vanity that masks her hideously wicked self-conscious that she once hid, and now turns to for the defeat of Snow White.
Director Jenny Anne Koppera wanted to bring Koste’s vision to life, including the portrayal of the queen, played by Kelsea Kerkes, which she thought was a special element of the entire production.
“She [Koste] did this cool thing with the script. She divided the evil queen into two characters, so it’s the beautiful exterior and the evil interior and they actually fight and talk to one another.
It makes you think about people’s façade,” Koppera said.
To bring realness and a true innocence to the character of Snow White at age 7, Koppera cast two young actors, Laila Krugman and Maya Grekin, who each bring different acting styles.
“There’s an honesty of the young Snow White, especially in the first act; she’s really honest,” Koppera said. “I thought that young actors could really capture that really well so they don’t necessary act, but just be on stage.”
Grekin, 11, who starred as a young Snow White, had audiences hanging on her every word, both humorous and endearing. Her poise and articulation is well beyond her years, and she was able to hold her own amongst the older actors so effortlessly, especially in a scene with the seven dwarfs. Grekin, who acted in her first play at age 4 and has been in many productions, enjoyed EMU’s version of the classic.
“It was really fun because I really liked how her character was and I really liked getting to know her character better. Some scenes that were kind of hard were some of the lines in the Evilun scene, because some of them I wasn’t sure if I should sound rude or innocent,” Grekin said. “I’ve only seen the Disney one besides this and I think there’s a big difference. They kind of explain more than the Disney film, like she’s innocent, she’s good and she can’t help being good.”
The presence of the good queen, played by Dorothy Meier, was a pivotal role in spiritually guiding her daughter Snow White during many obstacles as she matures. Not only did she enjoy embodying an unknown character, but also her “motherly” interaction with Krugman and Grekin.
“For me, no one has ever heard of Snow White’s real mom in any of the stories of Snow White, so I kind of had to own it and do it confidently. It’s just a cool concept,” Meier said. “I love working with children, working with Maya and Laila, the two little girls who played Snow White. Just being able to work with children because they’re so honest and pure, and exactly what they give is exactly how they feel on stage. So as an older actor you feel it.”
For Kristin McSweeney as Snow White at age 16, she worked on giving her character more appeal by having a balance between her sweet nature and a strong sense of who she is. It proved to be a challenge for her, but her portrayal was successful.
“It was really hard for me to find that middle ground between the Disney ‘Snow White’ and ‘Snow White and the Huntsman.’ She’s not all princessy, she was raised by dwarfs but she’s also really sweet, really innocent,” McSweeney said.
The overall excitement and energy of the audience, especially the young children in attendance, made the experience more worthwhile for the cast.
People in attendance flocked to the cast afterwards with praise and excitement.
“It was a great first night,” Sweeney said. “The audience was energetic. They responded perfectly; it just gave us more energy. It was awesome.”
The remaining dates of the production are Dec. 6, 7, 8 and 9 at Quirk Theatre. Tickets are $15 for regular admission, $12 for students and seniors and $9 for mainstage patrons at the box office or EMUTix.com.
Learning Beyond the Classroom credit is also available for this production.
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