The Snow QUEEN
Hans Christian Andersen's winter classic raises the temperature with a little Freddie Mercury and Queen.
For anyone who hasn't gotten enough of Frozen or this blustery season of Once Upon a Time, the members of the comedy group The Troubadours have taken on the original Andersen tale, The Snow QUEEN, with their usual brand of buffoonery, including a toe-tapping song list by the rock group Queen.
In this parody of the original story, Danish sweethearts Gerda (Misty Cotton) and Kai (Joseph Keane) are separated when a magic mirror pierces his eye and heart, leaving his vision distorted and his heart chilled. He hitches a sleigh ride with the notorious Snow Queen (John Quale), leaving Gerda to trek through the blizzards to find her young love. She meets witches and pirates before reaching the castle to battle for Kai to return to her.
The Troubadours have been a staple of Christmas time hilarity at the Falcon. Though their last few productions lacked the spark of their earlier work, the troupe is back on track with this antic-filled evening. The jokes are a higher octane and more organic to the story.
Musical Director Eric Heinly and his band ensure that the parody of Queen songs "Under Pressure," "Somebody to Love," and "Another One Bites the Dust" sound as vibrant as the original recordings as opposed to karaoke cues. The band members also double as pirates and mock their attempts at dancing and acting.
L.A. theater favorite Misty Cotton's Gerda doesn't disappoint. Cotton belts Mercury's hit songs with gusto and never gets lost in the frolicking. She makes Gerda's trek touching and her love for Kai heartfelt even while clowning around for 80 minutes. Joseph Keane is always the troupe's secret weapon. As Kai, he dances like firm Jell-O, finds the humor in the smallest physical quirks, and sings like a rock star. John Quale, from America's Got Talent, turns the Snow Queen into a sassy amalgamation of Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Lady Gaga. Rick Batalla, Beth Kennedy, Lisa Valenzuela, and Matt Walker lend support to the merriment.
Director Walker has a steady hand on the chaos. None of the many elements that make up this production — comedy, singing, dancing — overwhelm the other. There are some signature troupe jokes (the laugh-o-meter, laugh lines that intentionally fall flat, and musical haranguing at newcomers) that feel well past their expiration date. Sharon McGunigle's costumes continue to delight, particularly Kai and Gerda's Swiss Miss garb and the Snow Queen's cold blue housecoat.
As perennial as Holiday Inn and Rudolph, The Red-Nose Reindeer are on television, a Troubadour Christmas pageant means the holidays in L.A. have kicked into gear. The Snow QUEEN meets the Troubadour standards set by It's a STEVIE WONDERful Life, A Charlie JAMES BROWN Christmas and The First JO-el.