Washington County Playhouse offers Snow White with a modern twist
Chelsea Bondarenko stars as Snow White in the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children’s Theater production of “Snow White.”
But Bondarenko’s character is not the main focus of the story, she said.
“It is the witch’s story, and Snow White and the dwarves are part of the story,” she said, “as opposed to Snow White’s story.”
The play, written by Marjorie Sokoloff is not the well-known classic popularized by Disney, but an updated version that unveils the perspective of the villain, exploring her tragic childhood and her eventual quest for revenge.
“Snow White” opened Saturday, April 27, and will run at 11:30 a.m. Saturdays, May 4, 11, 18 and 25 at the Washington County Playhouse in Hagerstown. Tickets cost $19.50 and cover the show and a child-friendly lunch. The production is part of the Theater for Young Audiences program.
Bondarenko, 28, of Hagerstown, has performed in shows with the Washington County Playhouse since 2016. The Snow White character she portrays has the sweetness of the classic character but with a twist.
“Snow White is so kind to everybody, but she has a little sass to her in the end. I don’t want to give too much away, but she comes out of her shell a little bit,” she said. “There is a happy ending, but she has a little fire to her that comes out at the end of the show.”
The role was somewhat of a departure for Bondarenko, who typically is cast in humorous character roles.
“I’ve never had a chance to be a princess before, so it’s been pretty fun,” she said. “The show has a message of self-love and self-acceptance that everybody needs to hear.”
Jeremy Trammelle directed the cast of 13 actors. The roughly four-week rehearsal process was quite relaxed, Bondarenko “said, in part because the show is not a musical so actors were not required to learn singing and dancing numbers.
“The play is all dialogue. We were pretty much running it by the week prior to (technical) week. It’s been pretty laid back and low stress,” she said.
Nearly all the actors in the show have performed at the Playhouse in the past or worked together elsewhere.
“I just really love the dynamic that the cast has. It’s been really fun to watch all the characters come to life, to watch the dwarves discovering their little personalities,” Bondarenko said, “and to see everybody finding their way of relating to their characters.”
The updated dwarves are quirky but recognizable with names like “Gesundheit” and “Snoozy” instead of the classic “Sneezy” and “Sleepy” respectively.
Laura Martin, owns the Playhouse along with her husband Shawn Martin. Laura serves as managing director of the Theater for Young Audiences program, which features adults as well as middle and high school-age actors in Saturday morning shows geared for young audiences. The TYA program is separate from the Youth Theater, which features child actors.
TYA is a great way to introduce children ages three and older to live theater, she said.
“They come in and have lunch. We have special drinks that change color or where some sort of magic happens. It’s a lot of fun. Of course, the servers are actors who are in the show. They wait tables in costume,” she said.
A student who plays the role of Timid has a school-related obligation for one performance of the show, so Martin will act as an understudy.
“Timid is very shy and she has a lot to say but is often very timid about saying it,” she said. “But the other dwarves encourage her to say what she needs to say.”
Jordan Lowe, 29, of Shippensburg, Pa., acts as the narrator in the play. A fourth-grade teacher by trade, Lowe said she tells stories “all day long while teaching.”
“The play is about how things affect you in your life and how we can overcome them,” she said. “The dwarves are hysterical. Family, friends, everyone will get a laugh out of this show. Even the adults.”
Top photo: Jennifer Dickey portrays the witch in the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children’s Theater production of Snow White. (Submitted photo)