Family Show Review: The Snow Queen, Hertford Theatre
The Snow Queen, Hertford Theatre
Things We Like
- A fun, entertaining, professional performance for the whole family to enjoy
- Discarded some of the more cornier elements of panto
- Some really good song choices which helped to tell the story
- The theatre foyer is transformed to add an extra special touch
Things We Dislike
- From £80 for a family ticket is an expensive night out
What’s It All About?
The Snow Queen is Hertford Theatre’s 2019 Christmas Show which tells the tale of Gertrude’s brave quest to rescue her friend Kingsley from the clutches of the evil Snow Queen. With great acting, terrific music, fabulous dancing, plenty of laughs and not too much traditional panto, The Snow Queen is the perfect option for families looking for a show this Christmas.
What Do We Think?
We were invited to Hertford Theatre to watch The Snow Queen on the opening night. After seeing last year’s brilliant show (The Astonishing Adventures Of Pinocchio), we couldn’t wait to check out what they had in store for us this year. I’ll admit that our expectations were high – however, somehow, The Snow Queen managed to exceed them and we loved it!
The story is a classic tale of good versus evil and how love, friendship, bravery and determination can overcome any obstacle. The plot sees us follow Gertrude (Gerda) on her epic quest to find and save best friend Kingsley (Kay) from The Snow Queen.
Along the way, she is helped – and hindered – by an array of characters including Jack Frost, a Wolf, a Deer, a Huntsman, Rose, an Old Woman, a Witch and three Magpies (Malachy, Muriel and Maximilian) – the latter of which also acts as a guide / narrator for the audience.
Despite the large number of characters, there are in fact just six actors in the entire performance, of which three of them play just one character (Anya Hamilton as The Snow Queen, Lauren Jacobs as Gerda and Josh Dorn as Kay).
This means that all others fall to Chris Draper (Maxmilian Magpie / Huntsman), Elliot Moore (Malachy Magpie / Witch / Jack Frost / Deer) and Katherine Victoria (Murial Magpie / Rose / Wolf / Old Woman), who show great versatility in portraying the different characters. Hats off to the Costume team too for making the same person look different each time.
We couldn’t fault any of the performances and everyone was believable in their roles. The three magpies, Jack Frost and the Deer were the main sources of humour in the show, which helped to break up some of the more serious sections. The actors were ably backed up by the Youth Ensemble who joined the main cast on the stage for the musical numbers.
In terms of music throughout the show, the song choices were brilliant. With the occasional clever word change, these songs helped to tell the story without the need for additional dialogue between the characters. In total, there must have been approaching 20 different songs, which were all well-known, popular tunes from a variety of genres and years.
Some of the songs included were “Shine”, “Count On Me”, “Now I’m A Believer”, “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”, “Born To Be Wild” and “Mr Blue Sky”. Being our five-year old daughter’s favourite song, her face instantly lit up when she heard Maximillian Magpie and Gerda sing “Shotgun”! Many of these songs also included a well put together dance routine which added something additional to the performances.
Although all of the songs were great, the two that stood out were Kingsley’s emotional rendition of “Say Something” and The Snow Queen’s breathtaking version of “The Show Must Go On”.I don’t know about my daughter but I had goosebumps and slightly teary eyes! Praise must also go to the house band who played a large proportion of each song live on the night to a backing track.
The thing we really like about the Christmas productions at Hertford Theatre is that they’re not traditional pantomimes. It is an in-house, professional show which is more akin to a musical as opposed to a panto. It does retain some aspects you’d associate with panto, however it steers away from some of the crass, overdone and stereotypical content which can make pantomimes so tedious.
The aspects of panto it does retain work really well. For instance, there’s a singalong at the end orchestrated by the magpies which got the majority of people in the audience singing and dancing. At another point, a member of the crowd is chosen to be Gerda’s sparing partner to the soundtrack of “Kung Fu Fighting”, and then there’s the icing which may or may not accidentally get the audience!
At around two hours in duration (with a 15 minute interval), it felt a good length. Both my five year old daughter and I were glued to the action throughout and didn’t get itchy feet at any point. Although the show welcomes babies and toddlers, it’s aimed at children of three years and above. I’d agree with this as older children are going to get a lot more out of this than preschoolers. If you, for instance, have a one year old and three year old, I don’t think this is the show for you. Everyone else though, I expect you’ll love it!
There’s very little that I can offer in terms of improvements or things I’d like to see differently. If I’m being really picky, a little more audience participation or the cast being in the audience on more occasions, would have been a nice addition. I was also surprised that, for a show which is the inspiration behind the Disney behemoth Frozen, there were no songs from the film included in the performance. In hindsight, maybe that was a good thing!
Exactly like last year, Hertford Theatre and everyone associated with the production have done a brilliant job. From the moment you walk into the snow-covered foyer through to the musical finale at the end, you’re in for a real treat. If you’re looking for a show this Christmas, then you’re not going to find much better than The Snow Queen!
What Does It Look Like?
What Do I Need To Know?
Type: Theatre, Live Show, Panto.
Dates: 30th November 2019 to 1st January 2020.
Price: £27 (Band A), £25 (Band B), £23 (Band C), £22 (Band D), £13 (Relaxed Performance on Friday 27th December), Free (Babes In Arms under 18 months).
Duration: Approx. 2 hours (plus 15 mins interval).
Age Range: Babies and Toddlers (0-3), Young Children (4-8), Older Children (9-12).
Disclosure – We were provided with complimentary tickets to the show in order to write an honest review.