"The Snow Queen," a brightly inventive celebration of make-believe, has resurrected itself for a run at ASTA's comfortable Capitol Hill playhouse at 507 8th St. SE. I can't imagine anyone not feeling refreshed by this spirited little novelty.
Having served stages and screens for generations, Hans Christian Anderson's story is the take-off point for this collaborative venture by the Washington Theater Laboratory under the direction of Anthony Abeson.
To the credit of all, including composer-pianist Ed Rejney and costumer-performer Bart Whitemen, WTL here recognizes that the essence of make-believe is surprise, the sense of not allowing the basically familiar to become predictable. The 75 minutes of action constantly veer off into fresh twists and variations, songs and dances.
And since surprises have clearly been the result of considerable trail and error here, I will not spoil them but comment instead on the collaborative aspect of Abeson's production. With the director as narrator, there are 11 other performers, all immediately individual but all united Story Theater with its scenes of action ranging from palaces to rivers.
The characters flow from the Devil and a giant crow to a roly-poly grandmother and two graceful reindeer. Through additions of Whiteman's various accommodating materials, the players move in and out of their different roles with dicipline elan.
The tone is wholly modern without being vulgar, aware without being cheap and within Mickey Baron's accommodating, simple screens and lighting, ASTA's stage affords comfortable performing space for all its basic simplicity. Again, this group grasps the essentially constricted but entirely limitless art of make-believe.
As the teen-aged lovers split by the glass specks of the Snow Queen, Laura Clark and Bob Bailey play with grave humor, and Regina Miranda's lovely face projects the Snow Queen's icy spirit. Dennis Goldson and Jennifer Lee, both sparkling performers, make a good deal of the Crow and the Lapp Woman. Scth Jones, Bruce Clark, Michaeleen O'Neil. Pamela Meyer and Jewel complete a group which surely enjoyed its unifying creative adventure, which I missed last fall and somehow suspect has benefited from a relatively long though broken association.
Performances are Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 2.30 p.m. and phone reservations may be made at 347-9415.