Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Snow White
Arden Children's Theatre
Review by Rebecca Rendell | Season Schedule

Also see Rebecca's reviews of Tell Me on a Sunday and The Wild Duck

Nastassja Whitman and Doug Hara
Photo by Mark Garvin
Writer and director Greg Banks' Snow White is children's theater at its best. Plenty of humor, a frenetic pace, delightful music, whimsical sound effects, clever props, and rustic costumes all contribute to the joyful magic of this world premiere production. But after 20 years of producing plays for young people, the Arden knows that joy and magic are not enough. Banks embraces the fairy tale's dark side, too, making what could have been merely enjoyable fantastic. Here is a story that any child can relate to with a message every parent can feel good about. If you are hoping to give your kids a love of the theater that will last a lifetime, Arden Children's Theatre's Snow White is a great place to start.

Fans of the Disney film will find this version familiar, but Banks' script is more closely aligned with the 1812 story by the Brothers Grimm. Snow White is born after the queen spills a drop of blood onto the snow and wishes for a child with lips as red as blood, hair as black as ebony, and a heart as pure as snow. (Banks' wise decision to replace "skin as white as snow" instantly makes the story accessible to a wider audience and rejects equation of white skin with beauty. Hooray!) Snow White's mother dies and a beautiful but wicked stepmother takes her place. The new queen is jealous of her step-daughter's beauty and commands a huntsman to kill her in the woods. Snow White escapes into the forest instead and finds happiness among the seven dwarfs and mother nature.

The whole harrowing tale is relayed by Snow White herself (Nastassja Whitman's youthful energy is enchanting) and dwarf number 4 (an infinitely energetic Doug Hara). Whitman and Hara's skills are manifest in the seemingly endless roster of people, animals and elements they portray. The pair's comfort performing for young people is also evident. Whitman is energized by her enthusiastic young audience and Hara swiftly shifts in response to the level of energy in the house. Daniel Perelstein's musical accompaniment is similarly dexterous and a tremendous boon to the production.

Christopher Haig's refreshingly open set and Amanda Jensen clever lighting designs seem to invite the audience into the story. Do your kids a favor and let yourself go on the adventure.

Snow White, through Sunday June 10, 2018, at the Arden Theatre's Arcadia Stage, 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets Call the Box Office at 215-922-1122 or visit

Snow White: Nastassja Whitman
Number 4: Doug Hara

Artistic Team:
Director: Greg Banks
Set Designer: Christopher Haig
Lighting Designer: Amanda Jensen
Costume Designer;Natalia de la Torre
Music Director, Sound Designer and Composer: Daniel Perelstein