‘Rose and the Rime’: A Frozen Treat!
Laura Clark Greaver is a reviewer for Hitting the Stage. She is an actor, director, business owner and mom who is currently an MFA directing student at UH Manoa.
Freezing to death outside after nightfall is not exactly a common concern for kids or their parents living in Hawaii. We may still be concerned about our kids being out after dark, but often the struggle seems to be how to get them off technology long enough to go outside in the first place? Sometimes the compromise is to take them to the theatre, preferably to something engaging and thought provoking. Rose and the Rime is now playing with The Chaminade University Collegiate Theatre Festival at the Loo Theatre through August 14th. I was able to catch all of the shows within the Chaminade Collegiate Theatre Festival which was fantastic. My husband and I had not seen any of the shows in this festival before, even as season ticket holders to multiple theatres in LA for years, so it was a real treat. Rose and the Rime is recommended for ages 10 to 110, though my kids would say the target audience is middle schoolers to young high schoolers.
This modern, dark, fairy tale was written by Nathan Allen, Chris Mathews and Jake Minton. It was first workshopped and performed at Hope College in Holland, Michigan in 2006. It was devised over many months with college students and was selected to be performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC as part of the national American College Theatre Festival in 2008. It debuted professionally in Chicago in the winter of 2009 and revived in Chicago in the winter of 2014 after the popularity of Disney’s Frozen (2013). It has been produced all over the country, in all types of towns with or without a harsh winter since 2009.
The town of Radio Falls, Michigan and its characters, however, are trapped in a perpetual winter due to the curse of the Rime Witch (Geovante Joseph) and her magic coin. Young Rose, (Rachael Uyeno) sets out on a fantastical journey to save the town and break the curse. She is met with unexpected surprises at every twist and turn with interlaced metaphors throughout. Will she succeed? Can a young girl overpower a witch? Will she overcome her fears and grow from failures? Will her successes deliver happiness? These questions and more keep the audience captivated in her journey and beyond.
Director Nathaniel Niemi leads a tight, energetic ensemble through the physical embodiment and storytelling of not only multiple characters, but animals, locations, objects and even weather itself. Niemi has a unique talent for engaging an audience with the physicality of individual actors melding into a collective physical entity to convey characters (even inanimate ones) and story, all while creating relationships kids can relate to. Particularly, the poignant relationship between parental uncle Roger (Javier M. Santiago) and niece, Rose (Uyeno). Both actors bring a gentle warmth and believable bond to this relationship, as does Jimmy (Dylan Chase Lee) with his crack up comic relief relationship scene. Adding to these relationships and complimenting the movement is dance choreography by Jonathan Clarke Sypert.
Upon entering the Loo Theatre, which ironically has frigid air conditioning, the audience is met with a traverse stage with an intricately painted ice patterned floor by set designer, Rachel Filbeck. The pre-show music by sound designer Nathaniel Niemi consists of fun tunes to transcend the audience to bygone times where the only technology was short-wave radio, records and walkie-talkies. Much of the music throughout the piece helps to drive the pace and the physical movement, as the lighting by designer Andy Lee helped convey transitions of location and mood.
I had the pleasure of seeing a preview (rehearsal) of Rose and the Rime with my kids (ages 11 & 15) and opening night with my husband. My kids both really enjoyed the show even without all the design elements. It was a delight to watch them engaged and captivated by this talented cast. They were completely engrossed, reacting at times by covering their eyes and squirming in fear and excitement in their seats. They had so many questions about this “dark” show both after and later, igniting interesting discussions us parents crave from our screen glued kids. Unfortunately, opening night didn’t have a single kid in the audience aside from kids at heart. I’m not a fan of a traverse stage as I find seeing other audience members distracting, but I believe an intricate part of this piece is seeing kid’s reactions, as an interactive element. Unfortunately, as with many devised scripts, the pacing of the piece often becomes reliant on the original devisers instead of being inherent within the writing itself dictated by the writer. Even so, exposing kids to thought provoking, complex stories in a modern format is extremely valuable and enjoyable for adults. So bring your keiki, hanai, nieces, nephews or neighbors out on a journey you can enjoy together.
Rose in the Rime is playing at the Loo Theatre at Chaminade University
August 5th-14th Thurs. – Sat. 7pm, Sun 2pm