Existential “Snow White” Is Perfect Fit For Quirky St. Louis Fringe Festival

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Some of the motley crew of dwarves? in “Snow White” by ERA at the Fringe. Photo: Meredith LaBounty

Is it an existential retelling of a favorite fairy tale or, as they tell us in hand outs, “Snow White” from another planet? Whatever the case, ERA has brought us a bizarre and highly entertaining evening at the Fringe Festival. Snow White? Yes, although a bit bored with her lot. The evil stepmother? Yes, but having trouble carrying out her plan to do in Snow- so maybe she’ll choose someone else instead. The handsome prince? Yes, but he’s a bit too self-centered and, frankly, lazy to carry out his mission so he becomes a monk instead.

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Katy Keating as Snow White’s biological mother and often narrator of “Snow White,” casts an eye to the future. Photo: Meredith LaBounty

Lucy Cashion has brought us outlandish takes on other classics including the brilliant “Oedipus Apparatus” last year at WEPG. This one is truly ambitious and convoluted and, even if you have trouble following it, it’s still one entertaining piece of theatre. Maggie Conroy shines as the sometimes bewildered evil stepmother. Toting one of those long cigarette holders stolen from an old Noel Coward play, she dominates with her ranting and raving and conspiring with the mirror. The mirror is a projection on a screen over the back of the stage and it offers prerecorded messages from those looking into the “mirror” for advice. The mirror even talks back through whatever character is facing it but with the resonant voice of Randy Brachman telling it like it is.

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Mitch Eagles and Maggie Conroy spy on the neighbors- or is it the audience in ERA’s “Snow White” at the Fringe Festival. Photo: Meredith LaBounty

Julia Crump is the perfectly whiny Snow White wondering where the action is and why her prince isn’t interested in her life style living with seven “grown up” dwarves. Katy Keating is Snow White’s biological mother and narrator of the piece as she continues to relate increasingly dire news of how the young one died. Will Bonfiglio makes a charming prince who perhaps has the most existential conversations of the evening and eventually decides life is easier as a monk so he can be an onlooker instead of a participant.

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Reginald Pierre as dwarf “Kevin” spouts off in “Snow White” as ERA’s entry into the St. Lou Fringe. Photo: Meredith LaBounty

The seven gentlemen who share their abode and feelings with Snow include a hip Reginald Pierre who has mastered the “looking busy with a hair pick” mode and the nervous note-taker, Henry, as portrayed by the always spot on Carl Overly, Jr. Alex Fyles is the cowboy, and others in the motley crew include Mitch Eagles, Anthony Kramer, Gabe Taylor and Pete Winfrey- each with a distinctive style as they each bring something to the table.

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The cast of ERA’s “Snow White” playing at the St. Lou Fringe Festival. Photo: Meredith LaBounty

Speaking of table, they partake in a wild and wicked salad making sequence that would have Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg inviting them over for Thanksgiving dinner. It brings a whole new meaning to “is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just making fruit salad?” As they go off stage- and sometimes on stage- they do a shuffle off to Buffalo while uttering the classic Snow White mantra, “Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho.”

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The radical leader of the “dwarves,” Mitch Eagles as Bill, gets tied up during “Snow White” at ERA’s St. Louis Fringe presentation. Photo: Meredith LaBounty

Joe Taylor provides the creative musical score and also is the video director of the clever mirror sequences. Marcy Wiegert brings the right touch to her delightful costumes- some traditional, some slightly left of center. And the whole, wild, upside-down world of “Snow White” is adapted, scene designed and directed by the one and only Lucy Cashion.

When I was a student at Florissant Valley Community College in the mid 60’s, a friend of mine and I who specialized in re-writing classic American musicals in different genres, tackled several stories that were staged at the college. One of them was “Carbon Black and The Eight Dwarves.” We were unconventional as well- instead of writing  new lyrics for the songs in Disney’s classic film, we featured the same lyrics but changed the tunes- for instance, the dwarves sang “Oh, We Whistle While We Work” to the tune of “There Is A Tavern In The Town.” So I’m used to an unorthodox take on Snow White.

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Another group shot of the cast of “Snow White” at the St. Lou Fringe as presented by ERA. Photo: Meredith LaBounty

Equally Represented Arts (ERA), has brought a whole new meaning to fairy tales in general and to “Snow White” in particular. Unfortunately, as the St. Louis Fringe Festival flies by very quickly, you only have until Saturday to catch the madness that is “Snow White.” Go to the St. Lou Fringe Festival site and get your tickets now- it’s playing at the recently revamped Grandel Square Theatre.

 

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