A photo caption incorrectly identified actress Regina Miranda in a picture from the Washington Theater Laboratory's production of "The Snow Queen" in yesterday's editions of The Post.
The Washington Theater Laboratory's new home at 1327 F St. NW makes a strong first impression. An elevator operator escorts playgoers to the fourth floor, and the lobby in Washington (not counting some of the pressure groups on the Hill), but the theater itself is an anticlimax. The theater is larger than the closet that last housed the Theater Lab, but it's no more hospitable.
The opening show, "The Snow Queen," works in the opposite direction. The first stretch is confused and confusing, but as the show continues, focusing replaces floundering. The innocence of the Hans Christian Anderson tale emerges fairly intact in this original adaptation under the direction of Anthony Abeson.
The title character, you may recall, is the villain. She lures little Kai to her icy palace, and fragments of her magic mirror freeze his heart. His playmate Gerda is undaunted and rushes off to rescue him. At this point, about 45 minutes after curtain time, at the Theater Lab, the fun begins.
The fun is delayed because the Theater Lab presents an amateur-hour "pre-show" which has nothing to do with "The Snow Queen" and serves primarily to demonstrate the limits of individual actors' talents that normally would not be noticed. After that, "The Snow Queen" opens with physical and vocal bombast.
When the spirit of Anderson finally takes over, it is accomplished not through the occasional use of Danish and Icelandic, but through the callow countenances of Bob Bailey and Laura Clark as Kai and Gerda, the clever use of teen-dream pop songs, and the gentle piano work of Ed Rejuney - aptly reminiscent of the accompaniment of the silent movies. Some of the witticisms work, too.
Rough edges remain, and the lighting is so primitive that there isn't even a flicker during a time about the lights going out. Still, like the characters of Kai and Gerda, this show has a warm hear that occasionally melts ice.