The relationship between the Christmas season and children grew even closer last weekend when the Children's Theatre of Annapolis presented a cute, charming, funny production of "Snow White Goes West" at the Pascal Theater of Anne Arundel Community College.
In this version of the Grimm brothers' tale, Snow White leaves Disney behind and heads to California with her Pappy to cash in on the gold strike of the 1840s.
When Mr. White marries the dubious Queenie and dies suddenly, his daughter is left in the clutches of that devious saloonkeeper. And, sure enough, young Snow is soon lying unconscious, awaiting a regenerative smack on the lips from handsome Sheriff Joe Prince.
Directors Jennifer Sjolie, Megan Bowcutt and music director Jane Daugherty have crafted a tight, colorful production that benefits from the talents of several precocious youngsters.
Erin Wegner, a 13-year-old soprano from Severna Park Middle School, displays her lovely voice to great advantage as a suitably adorable Snow White, and her prince, Jeff Paulsen, is delightful as the cocky, preening young sheriff.
Deft comic touches are provided by Isabel Clark as Queenie, the hilarious villainess who projects both a chest voice and an attitude as "Rita of Santa Anita."
Her henchman, Sneaky Sam, also is a hoot. Ben Capistrant's manic, mustachioed portrayal conjures up visions of a young Rip Taylor.
The real scene-stealers appear when Katy Smith, Helen Van Wagoner, Angie Boss, Corine Cortina, Marissa Morris-Jones, Erica Paulson and Heather Strangle take the stage as -- you guessed it -- the Dwarf Brothers.
These diminutive troupers had me howling with their little hillbilly voices and cute, cute slapstick bits. Katy Smith, as Shorty, alone is worth the price of a ticket.
Michael Balderson and Shaun Plum are also very good as the pair of "Hee Haw"-style narrators.
There is some zippy choreography, including a country line dance, and you'll "ooh" and "aah" as I did at Snow White's menagerie of adorable (human) forest animals.
Quibbles? Not everybody seemed prepared for Act II on opening night. When the curtain goes up, kids, you've got to be ready for business! Act II might contain one dance sequence too many.
I also suspect the audience could learn to live without all the incessant whooping. And please -- somebody -- turn pages for the pianist!
"Snow White" will provide a holiday treat for the entire family. It may not be a Christmas show, per se, but it is definitely a show for Christmas.
"Snow White Goes West" will be performed tonight at 7:30, and tomorrow and Sunday at 2 p.m. Call 757-ACT1 for tickets.