This musical reimagining of the classic fable is infused with the music of the fabled English rock band Queen.
The improvisation was of such a high order when this critic saw the play on opening night that one does not know where the improvisation ends and the scenes begin and vice versa.
It is this blurring of the lines that has made this company what it is: masterful in freelance improvisation within the structure of a story line inspired by music from one particular act.
This “Queen” is particularly adapt at getting laughter where it seems there is none to get.
Over and over, the characters turn a mundane situation into a laugh fest complete with wit and grace to complete the moment.
Director, company artistic director and narrator Matt Walker is nothing short of brilliant in moving the play along with biting social and pop commentary as seen through the prism of hilarious improvisation and writing.
The language is unique to itself and makes one happy to be in the theatre.
What more can one ask from a company than that it risk reputation and royalties for 80 minutes to please the audience?
But instead of falling from the nearest precipice, the company thrives and multiplies like Shakespeare at the Old Globe.
The music, which includes hits such as “Bicycle,” “Nothing Really Matters,” “Somebody To Love,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Fat Bottom Girls,” “Under Pressure” with David Bowie, “We Will Rock You,” and “Another One Bites The Dust” is raw yet meticulous and compelling.
Eric Heinly’s musical direction and Molly Booth’s choreography turn the show from boring to bountiful. Each infuses this production with a substance, style and shading of their own.
To say that the music adds to the show is an under statement. The music guides the play.
Stand outs include:
Beth Kennedy (Old Woman/Robber Girl):who almost runs away with th show in a portrayal both parts imaginative and inspired.
Kennedy’s old woman, especially, is a gift from the heavens. This is a rare turn by an actress who is not acting, but existing in the moment.
But it is Rick Batalla (Scaramouche/Raven) who steals the show. Batalla is an extremely gifted improviser and actor who does not betray his gifts.
His performance as the raven is possibly the best improvisational work this critic has seen on the boards of this city in over four years of reviewing. It is biting, charming but, most importantly, out of this world funny.
Batalla inhabits his characters with passion, physicality and grace. This critic, for one, hopes to see him on the stages of Burbank or Los Angeles theatres again soon.
His is a fascinating talent indeed.
Adding to the message of the play are Robert Arturo Ramirez’ sound design, Jeremy Pivnick’s lighting design and Sharon McGunigle’s costume design.
All in all, “The Snow Queen,” which is the third production of of the Falcon’s 2014-15 season, works on all cylinders. It is a great success because the performers take such joy and pleasure in the simple act of performing. And in so doing take the audience along with them on a no holds barred roller coaster ride to laughter and enlightenment.
Improvisation fueled by music, this company proves, can bring as much joy as regular fare, if not more.
We now have 365 days to wait for the next improvised indigo.
Wed.-Sat. At 8pm
Sun. At 4pm & 7pm
No shows Dec. 24 & 25 or Dec. 31 & Jan.1
No 7pm show on Jan. 11 or Jan. 18
Dec. 27 at 4pm, Jan. 3 at 4pm
Weekdays (Wed./Thurs) $36.50-$39.00
Weekends (Fri/Sat/Sun) $41.50-$44.00
Student Rate (valid student ID) $29.00
Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91505