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WITH THE KIDS | REVIEW

Winter heart-warmer

A well-acted musical, 'Snow Queen's' twist on the fairy tale has an uplifting message and humor too.

January 09, 2003|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

One of Hans Christian Andersen's most shivery villains gets a Mary Poppins, "Touched by an Angel"-type make-over in the Falcon Theatre's sunny musical "Snow Queen." The result is a well-produced, tuneful romp with giggles aplenty, a superior cast and a big-hearted message about parents, kids and the importance of hugs.

With terrific musical numbers by lyricist and composer Bill Haller, this fairy tale update, written by Lori Marshall and directed by Kathleen Marshall, finds a zippy, winsome Snow Queen (gorgeous-voiced Nikki Crawford) playing nanny and friend to a clueless dad and his two lonely, motherless kids.

Dad (stage veteran Robert Yacko), who's not a "hugger," spends all his time at his ice cream store business, leaving rebellious Emma (Emily Hart, who strongly resembles big sister Melissa of "Sabrina" fame) lists that she ignores; little brother Alexander (Benjamin Platt) imagines he's a pirate.

The Snow Queen, bringing a wintry blast to Santa Monica, defies her mean boss, Mr. Weather (Eric J. Olson), and delays her trip to Alaska in order to help the unhappy family.

Musical numbers shine, and each cast member capably takes the spotlight with big pop solos.

As the villain of the piece, Olson supplies high-octane, song-and-dance comic energy. Yacko's best moment comes when suddenly "cool" geeky Dad foils Mr. Weather's meltdown plan for the Snow Queen. Crawford, meanwhile, a lovely stage presence with a velvety-rich singing voice, handles sentiment and silliness with equal grace.

One sweetly yearning duet is a highlight, sung by Crawford and 9-year-old Platt, whose husky, polished vocals ("stay, stay, don't you know I need you?") zing straight to the heart.

Will the Snow Queen find the last golden snowflake before she melts in the sun? Will the family finally be a family again? How will Dad recover from Mr. Weather's last-ditch, deep-freeze mischief-making? Love, naturally, has everything to do with the happily-ever-after wrap-up.

Victoria Profitt's set design and Laura Brody's costumes add to the fun; lighting designer Jeremy Pivnick makes a big contribution with winter light, sunshine and snowflake shadows.

*

'Snow Queen'

Where: The Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank.

When: Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Sundays at 1 p.m.

Ends: Feb. 2.

Price: $10.

Info: (818) 955-8101.

Running time: 1 hour

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