Much focus is on The Queen and lean, leggy, and vibrant Laura Careless makes a terrific impression as this iconic villain. Her striking features and icy voice make the most of “Who is the fairest of all?” while looking at mirrors. Hilly Bodin is a lively and lovely Snow White, but both she and Careless as well as the familiar plot are overwhelmed by frenetic spectacle.
Company XIV founder, director and choreographer Austin McCormick recycles his stylistic techniques that include a having troupe of physically attractive and dynamic dancers in skimpy costumes, pop tunes interspersed with classic music and standards, and circus flourishes.
Zane Pihlstrom’s set design is a detailed recreation of the stage of a seedy 1920’s nightclub with spiral staircases and ramps that could be in Paris or possibly Weimar Germany as there’s narration delivered in German. Mr. Pihlstrom’s eye-catching costume design is a dazzling assortment of sequined thongs, feathered fans, colorful masks, elaborate bustiers, and bejeweled codpieces. Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew’s lighting design alternates between being murky and impressionistically bright for the varying sequences and atmospherically illuminates the thick, smoky and aromatic incense-laden opening.
The eclectic and suitably complementary score is comprised of Debussy, Prokofiev, Schubert, Handel, Cole Porter, with Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and also Eartha Kitt’s singing “The Day the Circus Left Town” mixed in. Live piano pieces played by ensemble member Courtney Giannone (who also plays The Prince) are heard as well.
Sarah Cimino’s makeup design sensually enhances the faces of the superb company of performers that also include Marisol Cabrera, Lea Helle, Mark Osmundsen, Davon Rainey, Mark Osmundsen, and Davon Rainey. In addition to dancing eerily, Marcy Richardson and Malik Shabazz Kitchen sing live at times.
The hour-long first act does minimally impart the basic elements of Snow White with parts of the narrative such as the seven dwarfs represented by stick pictures in a small puppet theater. A company member who is in view holding a smart phone projects these bits as well as several other sequences onto a large screen. There’s also a spooky flamenco number with the cast in skull masks and Spanish accessories.
The fast-paced 30-minute second act is series of circus vignettes including a thrilling hoop routine and acrobatic dancing. Performers with rolls of cellophane wrap it around Snow White lying on a table to replicate her glass coffin.
Though lacking directness on the actual story, Company XIV’s Snow White is overall entertaining, occasionally exhilarating, and is very similar to their other works.
Snow White (through March 12, 2016)
Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane, east of Sixth Avenue, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 1-800-745-3000 or visit http://www.companyxiv.com
Running time: two hours including one intermission