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Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Feb 11th, 2016

THE SEX FILES: A Naughty Take on a Classic with Company XIV’s Snow White

Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry

Photo credit: Mark Shelby Perry

Company XIV’s Off-Broadway, adult-themed world premiere of Snow White is unfolding down at the Minetta Lane Theatre. Once again this troupe of daring dancers, singers, acrobats and actors present a wholly lush take on a classic (I caught them in their Nutcracker Rouge extravaganza a few years back, see here). Revealing a show once again conceived, directed and choreographed by Drama Desk Award nominee Austin McCormick, this version of the classic fairy tale bares very little relation to anything Disney ever attempted and is sure to leave you breathless.

Here we get the Brothers Grimm story blended with circus, opera, dance, theatre, music, high fashion and lavish design; “dark, dangerous and decadent” as the press release for the show boasts. The design team of costume and set person, Zane Pihlstrom, Jeanette Yew on Lighting Design and Makeup Design by Sarah Cimino artfully steps in here to present their handiwork on this two hour show (two hours with intermission) as much as the actors and McCormick.

Of those actors, the cast is led by Laura Careless as the constantly fairest-seeking “Die Konigin (The Queen)” a lanky dynamo of raw dangerous energy, coming-up against her failed attempts to destroy Snow White. She cavorts with her “Koniglicher Hofstaat (the Queen’s Men)” played by Nicholas Katen, Malik Shabazz Kitchen, Mark Osmundsen, and Davon Rainey; they are especially brilliant in a beginning mirror dance that presents the oft used wonderful effect of handheld video camera and light projected on a ribbon curtain center stage. Ballerina Hilly Bodin plays lead “Schneewittchen (Snow White)” twirling, falling and emoting with her thick strong body, with showgirls Marcy Richardson, Lea Helle and Marisol Cabera acting the ‘chorus’ around her (complete with diorama shadow play) and Der Prinz (The Prince)” played by Courtney Giannone.

From Debussy to Schubert to Britney Spears the songs run the gambit, there is as much serious ballet as silly song and dance, interactive video and lots of heels, G-strings and pasties. A great song celebrates the corset while another featured lips, makes this a fun over-the-top romp ending act 1 where our cast dances more or less wearing headless mannequins

The one aspect to the entire proceedings that didn’t work so well for me, and is certainly my shortcoming in that I do not speak another language, is with 95% of the narration offered from stage (and granted there isn’t so much narration) being in German, I was more than a little lost with where the story was much of the time. Also, at least the night I attended, the backing music, even when not pushing a dance along, was simply too loud, so when the narration did come (and granted I wasn’t going to understand it anyway) I couldn’t hear spoken passages that well.

But overall, as an immersive sensual interpretation, the production here is certainly lush, the actors beautiful and the set pieces wild enough to get one past parts that might be confusing.

I certainly am down for theatre that challenges the senses, pricks the sensibilities of ‘normal’ theatre (who doesn’t like a good prick at the theatre, really?) and viewing some gorgeous bodies almost naked. Really, with these shows that Company XIV presents, at any one time you get an eyeful no matter where you’re looking, at a dance occurring downstage dead center or up in the wings as characters change and prepare…in fact, when you’re initially let into the theatre a half hour before the performance begins, the characters are walking on and off stage or laying around powdering themselves, wiggling into wigs and generally getting prepared, making you feel wholly let into this world of scented dry ice, smoke, and low light.

Check out this trailer for the show here and get yourself down to the Minetta Lane Theatre and over to www.CompanyXIV.com for more details.

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THE SEX FILES: A Naughty Take on a Classic with Company XIV’s Snow White