Snow White is making her comeback. Last year’s “Snow White and the Huntsman” grossed nearly $400 million worldwide, and the ABC series “Once Upon a Time” a revamp of the tale set in 21st century Maine, was the network’s biggest debut in five years. The Columbia City Ballet has jumped on the fairy tale bandwagon and will begin their spring 2013 season with three performances of “Snow White” at USC’s Koger Center February 1st and 2nd.
This isn’t the first rendition of “Snow White” performed by the Columbia City Ballet. A rendition of Snow White heavily influenced by the Walt Disney movie was first performed in 1989, and two children-friendly versions of Snow White were also performed in 1995 and 2009 through the Ballet’s Educational Outreach Series.
This season’s version, however, has been reinvented by Executive and Artistic Director William Starrett. Starrett, an accomplished dancer and choreographer with more than 30 years of experience, himself danced the part of Prince Charming in the Columbia City Ballet’s 1989 rendition and also implemented Educational Outreach.
Referring to this new rendition of Snow White as “very un-Disney,” Starrett decided to flesh out this year’s version of Snow White, thickening the story’s plot. “There’s more meat to it,” said Starrett.
Starrett drew inspiration from the Grimm Brothers’ version of the fairy tale, a much darker and more morbid story than the 1937 Disney movie. A Russian version of Snow White, “The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights,” written 1833 by Aleksandr Pushkin, led Starrett to feature knights as Snow White’s protectors rather than the standard dwarfs.
Starrett also took pains to focus more on the character of the Queen (played by Regina Willoughby) and fully establish her evilness. The ballet begins with the marriage of the Queen to Snow White’s father, the King, and his subsequent murder. The Huntsman, ordered to slay the innocent Snow White (played by Claire Kallimanis), also plays a more important and ultimately tragic role in the story as the Queen’s lover.
Starrett decided to retain a few sentimental elements of the Disney version. The Grimm’s Snow White awakes from her sleep when she coughs up the poisoned bite of apple. “I thought it wasn’t romantic enough,” said Starrett, who chose to keep in the ballet the spell-breaking kiss from Prince Charming (played by Journy Wilkes-Davis).
Two versions of Snow White will be performed at the Koger Center. The evening performances, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1 and 2, are geared for more mature audiences, and before each show Starrett will give the audience a behind-the-scenes lecture.
The matinee, at 3:00 p.m. Feb. 2, is a toned down, family-friendly version. Before the Feb. 2 matinee, a “Snow White Tea” event will be held, offering tea, cakes, cookies and an opportunity to meet the dancers. After the matinee, audience members have the opportunity to go backstage.
Tickets to the Columbia City Ballet’s “Snow White” must be purchased in advance through www.capitoltickets.com. Prices range from $15-$38. Balcony seating for the performances are now sold out.