ALHAMBRA CHILDREN’S THEATRE REVIEW
DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM [email protected]
Children’s theatre is alive and well at Alhambra Theatre & Dining, at 12000 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida, which frequently offers matinee productions designed for children. During a recent visit, we, along with some 250 elementary school students, saw a delightful version of the classic fairy tale “Snow White.”
The Alhambra Theatre has become a dynamic entertainment destination, and continues to offer a full schedule of Broadway musicals and plays, programming which has delighted Jacksonville audiences for almost fifty years. In recent years, they have revived the tradition of casting television and film stars in selected productions from time to time. The Alhambra After Dark music series has been a big hit and is like a night out at a fancy big city night club. Coming up is “The Rat Pack” during June 8 – 12, 2016.
“Snow White” was a perfect choice for the full house of excited kids. This German fairy tale became popular after publication in “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” in 1812, and has remained a favorite of children and grown-ups throughout the world. A staged version played on Broadway in 1912, which was adapted for film in 1916. Many notable versions followed, including Walt Disney’s famed “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937, and more recently “Mirror, Mirror,” with Julia Roberts, in 2012.
The Alhambra’s adaption was created by Artistic Director/Producer Tod Booth, which incorporated the traditional characters and elements that have been a part of the tale since the beginning, and was a nifty fifty minutes or more of fun.
The characters included a beautiful princess named Snow White (Katie Nettle), her stepmother, the Evil Queen (Patty Eyler), and the huntsman (Mark Mansiungan). The Narrator, who was also the voice of the magic mirror, was Alhambra veteran Erik DeCicco. The seven dwarfs were students from the audience who were given signs with their dwarf names and a line or a gesture to convey individual characteristics; thus, Sneezy sneezed while Happy laughed.
A curtain hid the existing set for “Blithe Spirit,” the Alhambra’s current show. The three set pieces were a throne for the Queen, a frame for the magic mirror, and a small house for the dwarfs. The production included audience participation, with all the children in the audience responding enthusiastically to the challenge of chirping like birds and sounding like a fierce wind. Additionally, several children came on stage briefly to play trees hiding Snow White from the Queen.
There were lessons to be learned from the play, most importantly, “never accept gifts from strangers.”
Most of the children remained after the play to have their dinner theatre experience completed with a brown bag lunch consisting of a sandwich and a beverage provided by teachers, teacher’s aides, and volunteer parents.
The Alhambra is a wonderful setting for a field trip for schools. It is easy to find and the traffic after rush hour is much lighter than downtown traffic. The large parking lot has room for buses. The lovely garden and fountain in the front of the building are grand attractions and make for excellent photo opportunities.
Snow White is a well-acted show and was well-received by the audience. Additional showings are scheduled on June 3rd and July 8th, and are open to both schools and the general public. The Alhambra can also schedule additional productions for parties of 200 or more. For more details and reservations call 641-1212 or visit their website at www.alhambrajax.com.