Company XIV's Snow White
I didn’t think it possible, but creator, choreographer, and artistic director Austin McCormick has outdone himself. Company XIV very recently debuted their production of Snow White, and it goes beyond all expectations. Snow White was a different experience than Cinderella or Nutcracker Rouge, in that it had much more drama and less, but still some, humor. This show was unnerving in the most wickedly sexy way conceivable, and was emphasized by much more foreboding, climactic music than was featured in previous shows. This gave the story a scarier fairytale feel, while still, of course, weaving in modern twists and erotic interpretations.
The show begins, a white fringe curtain across the stage and the cast getting ready behind it. But in the spirit of Company XIV, the first scene has to shock and amaze just as much as any other; as the cast is rolling up their stockings and applying vibrant lipstick, a video camera is following them around and the live feed is being projected in a haunting, mystical fashion onto the white fringe. The whole projection has a behind the scenes feel, just without any scrambling or anyone out of costume, which makes the whole thing seem more fabulous and impressive. For the rest of the show, the live feed projection returns multiple times, serving as the magic mirror that infuriates the Queen with tales of Snow White’s beauty.
Played by Laura Careless, the Queen displays all of the tumultuous theatricality expected from fairytale royals. She goes from dancing seductively with her Queen’s Men, teasing them and taking pleasure in seeing them do her bidding, to throwing an explosive temper tantrum and ordering her death. Snow White is then drugged and dragged off by a Queen’s man, which results in a dark and trippy journey to the forest that was strangely reminiscent of a girl being drugged in a club. However, as the Queen soon discovers, her bidding was not carried out and Snow White escaped, lost in the forest all alone.
The three showgirls, played by Marcy Richardson, Lea Helle, and Marisol Cabrera, manage to be comedically whimsical and completely alluring at the same time, wearing black ensembles consisting of bras, stockings, garter belts adorned with a row of lush black feathers in the back, and matching feather headpieces. They pull out a puppet theater on wheels, and use paper dolls to represent Snow White finding a cottage in which live “seven little men,” who allow Snow to stay with them as long as she cooks, cleans, and does every other chore in the house. However, she hadn’t escaped danger yet. The Queen comes after Snow each time her mirror tells her that her last murder attempt failed; these attempts involved a disguise as a corset seller, an intense dance redolent of a bull fight, and a circus frenzy complete with aerial skills on a lyra and some seemingly impossible pole dancing.
This production of Snow White stays true to the original story by the Brothers Grimm, embracing the darkest undertones of the plot where most adaptations have been focused on making it less scary and more kid-friendly. The show is narrated, mostly in German, by Lea Helle, and has some very current songs, from Tove Lo to Britney Spears, woven throughout. Marcy Richardson, in addition to her unbelievable aerial skills, sings fabulously regal opera renditions of these traditionally pop pieces. In another expectedly unexpected twist, the Prince is played by Courtney Giannone, who saves saves Snow White and then proceeds to wow the audience with her exceptional skills on the cyr wheel.
The end of the story, also true to the original writing, is much more compelling than the end of the comparably unthreatening cartoon version. Snow White marries her prince with the Evil Queen in attendance, and because Hilly Bodin’s portrayal of Snow White is markedly edgier and more independent than the one we’ve been exposed to, she decides that the Queen’s punishment for trying to kill her so many times will be that she must put on red-hot shoes straight from the coals and dance until she dies.
Snow White runs until March 12th, playing at the Minetta Lane Theatre Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 5pm. Tickets are available through companyxiv.com or Ticketmaster.