Dorset Players' 'Snow White' a family holiday hit

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DORSET — There's a reason why a community theater company like the Dorset Players fills the seats for its annual Christmas season show, and it's the same reason why in its 91st season it is considered one of the most successful such troupes in the country, even though it is situated in tiny, rural Dorset.

The Players have an impeccable sense of timing in every decision, and their holiday shows, which focus on including local children in the cast, are perfect productions at a time of year when even the most cynical among us want to take a breath from seriousness and focus on fun and family.

And so it continues with the Players' current production of "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs," adopted from Grimm's Fairy Tales as a musical by Carol Weiss. It's directed by Kevin O'Toole, with musical direction and keyboard accompaniment by Michael Gallagher, and produced by Kathy Penge.

The play follows the familiar storyline reimagined, and runs a crisp 83 minutes with no intermission, just long enough to make it though while still keeping any kids in the audience engaged in the spectacle before them, rather than squirming in their seats.

The story also nicely delivers timely messages for adults, through the mouth of babes as it were, on unity, kindness, love, redemption and reconciliation.

One thing a bit different this year was the number of adult actors also participating in the show, and delivering sublime performances.

Courtney Carter as the Queen in her fiery red dress stood out as the show's star in her poise as well as her self-caricature - bravo! Likewise, Lillian Kelly as the Magic Mirror helped push Carter and the entire cast in a Greek-chorus type of way, but always with humor just at the right moment.

Jennifer Lalli as Witch Wicked and William Jamieson as Sir Pompous quickly became audience favorites in their totally opposite characterizations of meanness and buffoonery. Isabel Mazzola, a junior at Southern Vermont College, joined the dwarfs as the Keeper, nicely shepherding her half dozen young charges with aplomb and grace.

The remaining cast included high school, middle school, and elementary school student in roles which required dancing, singing, and delivery of key punch lines. Those players all should take a bow for what was a rapid-paced, warm, and funny performance: O'Toole somehow had everyone ready to go and peaking on opening night — hats off, sir!

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Sir Silly and Sir Clumsy, are nicely played by Luca Bowen and Luke McChesney. Snow White and her dream prince were Lily Gallagher (also noted for a terrific voice) and the affable Aiden Kennedy.

Elizabeth Spurr, Siobhan O'Keefe and Grace McDonald appear as the Queen's three ladies in waiting, and at times worked hard to steal the show. Rounding out the cast are the seven dwarfs, with Mazzola mentioned above joined by, Molly Flint, Ryder Scott, Anabel Grattan, Penelope Kimball, Emma Daley and Camryn Monforte.

Lights by Angie Merwin and Ethan Prins excelled in effect. Costumes by Suzi Dorgeloh and Cherie Thompson, and make-up by Becky Nawrath were all fun and frolicking and visually stunning. Drew Hill's set design (along with his construction team of Errol Hill, house manger Dom Pegne, director O'Toole, and Bill Wightman) continues to be a marvel of aesthetics and logistics, and was nicely complemented by the forest background of Lesley Purdy.

Hats off to the stage management of Julie Citron, who with assistant Annie Nash most capably rode herd on the entire troupe to get this musical from start to finish.

Finally, professional theatre companies would drool at the chance to have a musical director as accomplished as Gallagher leading their production. That man alone deserved the standing ovation given to "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" at the final curtain

This fairy tale is a classic, and this particular musical version has become something of a holiday mainstay in its own right. At play's end, the Players always have a surprise and treat for everyone on stage.

This is what family fun is all about, so pack up everyone in your household and make the drive to little Dorset, where a lively and loving production awaits, and an amateur company in its 91st season delivers the goods like seasoned pros.

The Dorset Players' "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" will be produced at the Dorset Playhouse at 104 Cheney Road in Dorset on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Presented by Factory Point Place, the show is sponsored by New Morning Natural Foods, The Bank of Bennington and Baierlein Landscaping. For ticket information, call 802-867-5577 or visit online at www.dorsetplayers.org.

Award-winning freelance journalist Telly Halkias is also a member of the American Theatre Critics Assn. (ATCA) and can be reached at tchalkias@aol.com or Twitter: @TellyHalkias


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