BROADWAY — An ensemble cast at the Schultz Theatre is performing a contemporary version of the classic fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” that adds new twists.
The production debuts tonight at J. Frank Hillyard Middle School in Broadway starting at 7 p.m., with additional performances at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The new version was adapted from the famous Brothers Grimm tale by Catherine Bush, the resident playwright at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon. The Barter Theatre first performed the play in 2018.
Director Ron Smith saw the production in Abingdon last summer.
“The auditorium was primarily filled with children and Catherine’s version captivated them. Seeing the children’s faces and their reactions to the play, I thought this would be a good show to bring to the Schultz Theatre,” Smith said. “It’s different from the traditional Disney movie that everyone may be familiar with.”
But the basic storyline remains. Snow White’s evil stepmother, the queen, is filled with jealousy when her magic mirror tells her that Snow White is now the “fairest of them all.” She orders a huntsman to kill Snow White and bring back her heart, but feeling guilty, the huntsman ends up deciding not to kill her. Rather, he informs Snow White that the queen wants her dead and she runs away into the woods, where she is led to a cottage inhabited by seven dwarfs.
When the mirror tells her Snow White is still the fairest of them all, the queen realizes the heart the huntsman brought back as proof of Snow White’s death is actually a pig’s heart.
The queen uses a potion to transform herself into an old hag and she tricks Snow White into biting a poisoned apple that curses her into eternal slumber.
In Bush’s version, it’s up to the dwarfs and the huntsman’s son, Jack, to figure out how to awaken Snow White. The play’s end will be a surprise to those whose familiarity of “Snow White” is primarily based on the animated Disney film released in 1937.
One of the main differences in Bush’s adaptation is that the seven dwarfs are circus performers known as the Flying Klinglemeisters. The dwarfs’ names are changed to Horst, Otto, Klaus, Dolphus, Gustav, Lutz and Gottlieb.
“When I held auditions, I required that the children who are auditioning have some sort of circus-like trick or activity because that’s part of the script,” Smith said. “I have one who juggles and one who does cartwheels.”
The dwarfs are forced by the queen to dig for diamonds in a nearby mine.
“She thinks that’s what’s required to make her more beautiful,” he said.
The huntsman’s son, Jack, plays a prominent role, essentially taking the role of the prince.
The roles of Snow White and Jack are double cast because of a five-year jump in the plot. The child Snow White will be played by Ava Grace Flory and Claudia Obenschain is cast as the older Snow White. Romney Ritchie is playing younger Jack while older Jack will be portrayed by Wyatt Tinkham.
Terri Hoover, the Schultz Theatre’s artistic director, is the queen. Cory Tinkham is cast as the king and the role of the huntsman will be played by Seth Simmers.
Tonya Holland, a music professor at Bridgewater College, composed original music for the Schultz Theatre’s “Snow White” production. The lyrics to the dwarfs’ famous chant “hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go” were changed slightly to avoid Disney copyright infringement, Smith said.
Holland composed three songs for the dwarfs and one song for Snow White.
“Our production of ‘Snow White’ has something that no other production of ‘Snow White’ will have had,” Smith said.
The director said it’s been a joy to bring together the cast of 23, which is comprised of children and adults of all ages.
“It’s a fun show,” he said. “It’s been a delight bringing them together to create this show.”
Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors. For more information, visit www.schultztheatre.com or call 540-405-2481.