A Parent’s Review: Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s ‘Snow White’
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"
The kids in the audience would say Snow White, but I don't know … the Evil Queen, the Butterfly and the Spirit of the Mirror are equally nice.
I was pretty excited in anticipation of my family's first major ballet experience, and Snow White, danced by members of Pacific Northwest Ballet School, doesn't disappoint. The show is perfectly professional with splendid costumes and music, not to mention a showcase for some accomplished young dancers.
It's a great first time ballet for kids. The show is only one hour long, and the audience gets the core plot they love and expect: Snow White flees her home and the resentful Queen to be taken in by the charming seven dwarfs. When the Queen's poison apple forces Snow White into a deep sleep, the Prince kisses her awake. Then (of course) they live happily ever after.
Yet the traditional story is accompanied by plot additions that are well suited to ballet. The show opens in an enchanted forest, with picturesque butterfly and tree spirit dances. There is a dream sequence, where Snow White meets her Prince, and a more appropriate twist for the ending: the vain Queen ends up getting trapped in the mirror instead of tumbling to her death.
It wasn't long after the show started when a little one behind us said, "Daddy, where is Snow White?" And there is much delight when the star of the show emerges. I thought the Evil Queen was another scene-stealer with her long limbs and deliciously jealous appeal. I had to giggle when she transformed into the beggar woman – it's not easy to make someone with perfect posture look decrepit.
Recognition for the concept and choreography of Snow White go to Pacific Northwest Ballet School faculty member Bruce Wells, who also plays the role of Snow White's father in the show. After the enchanted forest scene, he takes his place at a podium to be an occasional narrator, which had mixed reviews in my family. Most of the time, I felt it would have been better to leave it up to our imaginations, knowledge of the story and the expressive dancing. However, my 5-year-old daughter liked that the King was also the storyteller.
My daughter was absorbed and caught up in the moment, as were the other attentive kids in the audience at the Sunday matinee. I got the feeling that these young ones enjoyed a chance to get gussied up in their princess dresses and button-down shirts for the ballet – a very grown-up experience.
My 7-year-old son, who was knee-deep in Legos and Transformers as he protested our leaving for the show, enjoyed the production, too. He especially liked the dancing of the seven dwarfs. When talking about the dancers' accomplishments afterward, he naively proclaimed: "They must have practiced five times a month to do that!"
Even though it is a school production, the cost is still pretty substantial for a family of four or more. Tickets start at $22, as compared to $28 for the professional company production of Coppélia in June, but it is a full experience. To get even more out of your visit, be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes early so your little one can make a prince or princess crown in the lobby prior to the show. Free booster chairs make for better sightlines. And, last but not least, make an afternoon out of it with the eats and treats around Seattle Center.
Don't miss your chance to see Snow White; only two shows remain.
Taryn Zier is a freelance writer based in Lake Forest Park and mother of two children, ages 5 and 7.
If You Go...
Where: Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle Center.
When: Sunday, March 25, performances at noon and 3:30 p.m.
Cost: Ranges from $22 to $67.
Contact: 206-441-2424; www.pnb.org.