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Washington County Playhouse stages 'Snow Queen' for Theater for Young Audiences

Washington County Playhouse stages 'Snow Queen' for Theater for Young Audiences

New mom Emily Gitome of Hagerstown gets excited when there's an opportunity to be around children.

And Gitome gets that chance when she performs in Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children's Theater's "Snow Queen," a Theater of Young Audience production. The show opens Saturday, Sept. 22, in the downtown Hagerstown theater and runs Saturdays through Oct. 27. 

Gitome, who was last seen in the Playhouse's "Gigi," said this is her first time performing in a Theater of Young Audience production. 

"I love kids, so being able to be around an audience of children presents some very cool surprises," said Gitome, who is the mother of 7-month-old daughter Kensington Adele.

Gitome will play the Snow Queen in this updated version of the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale. 

The story follows 12-year-old Gerda as she goes on a quest to find her best friend Kai who was kidnapped by the evil Snow Queen. With help from a troll and an elf, Gerda must race to find her friend before his heart is frozen over. The children parts are double cast with Katelynn Mueller and Eliza Gregory as Gerda and Grey Hacker and Dylan Clingan as Kai on opposite Saturdays. 

"I love the twist. The author brought a very old script and incorporated modern themes and blends a very nice frosty twist. And even though I play the evil antagonist in the show, it does end with good conquering evil. I love that aspect," she said. 

Gitome said the young audience will enjoy the cast. 

"I think they're going to love the different characters — we have an elf, we have a troll, we have a queen, we have children performing as children," she said. "Just watching the different dynamics between the different characters, I think they'll be very engaged with that."

As for her first Theater for Young Audience Performance, Gitome said director and playhouse co-owner Shawn Martin told her to expect the unexpected when performing for children. 

"I've gotten the understanding that they might just start dancing," she said. "... but I need to stay very present in the world of the Snow Queen."

Dan Ritchey of Hagerstown has seen that fourth wall broken during past Theater for Young Audience productions, which is one of the joys of performing for children.

"Just the reaction of the kids. I wanted to do it again, he said.

He said during his last Theater for Young Audiences production of  "How I Became A Pirate," they had some audience reaction. Ritchey said after one of the cast members finished his solo, one of the kids from the audience yelled, "Good job, waiter!" Ritchey said the same person had been the child's waiter before the show. 

In this production, Ritchey plays Nick the Troll. 

"He's a goofy, middle-aged troll, who's very concerned about his career — and I can feel that," said Ritchey, who works in IT.

He said he's having a good time with the small cast saying they've formed "a close bond."

Although this is a show for children, Ritchey said there are some jokes that the adults will get.

But the biggest gift of "Snow Queen" is the lessons the audience will take with them.

"For me, the lesson in this is the value of good friendships, and to have a good friend at your back when things go wrong," he said.

Top photo: Emily Gitome of Hagerstown is the Snow Queen in the Theater for Young Audiences production of the same name at the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children's Theater in downtown Hagerstown. (Photo by Crystal Schelle)

If you go ...

WHAT: "Snow Queen" 
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Saturdays, Sept. 22 through Oct. 27
WHERE: Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children's Theater, rear, 44 N. Potomac St., Hagerstown
COST: $18, preceded by a snack lunch featuring your choice of a slice of oven-baked cheese pizza or an all-beef hot dog.

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