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Trio from NKU Pen New Musical Take on Classic "Snow White" Tale

A brand new musical look at classic fairytale Snow White by Northern Kentucky University’s Ken Jones, Jamey Strawn, and Christine Jones has taken the stage at The Children’s Theatre at the Taft Theater in downtown Cincinnati (with three more performances this weekend).

Snow White and the Dancing Dwarfs features seven little guys with fancy feet, all of them specializing in a different international style – Texas two-step, Irish jig, tango, tap, ballet, waltz and polka.

Children’s Theatre producing artistic director (and NKU grad) Roderick Justice and the theater staff came up with the high concept and when they did, they knew it was a perfect match for Jones (book), Jones (lyrics), and Strawn (music).

The creative trio have a long list of successes, with hour-long family shows including Children’s Theatre’s 2013 holiday hit The Day Before Christmas (about to be published) and adult musicals including CHURCH GIRLS, Umatilla USA, which had audiences howling at Commonwealth Theatre, playing at NKU every summer.

Ken Jones, whose day job is founding director of NKU’s new School of the Arts, is an established playwright who wanted his script to balance comedy with the good and evil that mark so many fairytales.

Jones goes back to the original folk tale for the plot. “In the original, the queen tried to kill Snow White three times,” he reports. We’re not telling what she’s up to besides the poisoned apple.  

Background actors left to right:  Joey Squeri, Sarah Alice Shull, Gretchen Priddy, Jacob W. Schuster. The Bear is being operated by Cameron Cumbee (inside) and Eli Prather (arms). Margot Grom-Mansencal plays Snow White (on the right in purple). Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

“The show is for kids,” says Ken Jones. “But ‘The Mirror and the Queen’ provide a lot of humor for grown-ups. The hidden messages are: What you are on the inside will eventually show through on the outside. The Queen is outwardly beautiful but evil inside, and as her evil grows she becomes the ugly witch. Second, loving each other is what makes happiness. Snow White loves the animals in the forest, she loves the dwarfs and they love her. She even shows compassion for the Queen -- ultimately Snow White wins.”

NKU is also well-represented on stage, including grad Spenser Smith as the Narrator and senior James Jones as the Prince. Ken Jones says, “He’s loveable but clueless, handsome and egotistical – his song is ‘Gosh, I’m Glad I’m Me.’ Then he meets Snow White and starts to think of others."

Justice also called in talented Kevin Frisch and his Frisch Marionettes. “He’s built some utterly incredible works,” Justice says, “including a live-sized deer, a bunny, and squirrel, and a gigantic, eight-foot bear!”

Snow White and the Dancing Dwarfs, Feb. 20 and 21. The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati, Taft Theatre, 5th and Sycamore Streets, Downtown Cincinnati. 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Additional 5 p.m. performance Feb. 20. Tickets $7-$25. 1-800-745-3000 and www.ticketmaster.com.

Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts
Top photo: Margot Grom-Mansencal as Snow White with Producing Artistic Director Roderick Justice. Photo by Phil Groshong.