Student thespians go on an Arctic adventure

Playing the ‘roses’ are, from left, Adriana Salageanu, Ava Robinson and Sofia Pace, joined by Liliana Benanti as Gerda and Meghan Koziolkowsky, playing Kai, right. — Jeannette Ross photo

A story of good, evil, and a pure heart. That’s what the audience will experience when the Our Lady of Fatima Theatre Group presents the Snow Queen.

Performances will take place Saturday, May 20, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 21, at 3 at the school at 229 Danbury Road. Tickets are $10.

The Snow Queen is a musical set in the Arctic Circle, directed by Joe Santaniello.

“This is my second year directing at Our Lady of Fatima,” he said. “It’s a wonderful, welcoming community.” Last year he directed the students in a production of Ellis Island.

The Snow Queen is based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen story of the same name, about “an evil Sorcerer, a mysterious Snow Queen, and a young girl, Gerda’s, journey to save her best friend, Kai,” he told The Bulletin. “Gerda sets out on her quest and meets many friends and foes along the way. Where is Kai? Will Gerda survive her daunting task, and will good or evil win in the end?”

The play was written by Cheryl Kemeny, president of the Crystal Theatre in Norwalk, where Santaniello is head of continuing education. Santaniello said he has brought her work to Our Lady of Fatima because, “unlike other cover shows, that have two or three main parts, Cheryl’s shows feature many kids in many roles.”

There are 43 students involved in the production. To offer them as wide an experience as possible, students will play different parts in each of the performances, swapping lead and ensemble roles.

To assist, Santaniello has brought six of his high school and college students to help backstage with lights and sound. They also coach the students with singing, acting and choreography.

“I believe in training the whole artist,” he said. As his students move up and talk about going to college and studying performing arts, he brings them into his productions so they can learn what goes on behind the scenes.

During dress rehearsal on Tuesday, however, it was all about what was happening on-stage.

“Don’t forget to tell your parents and friends,” he told his assembled actors. “We want a full house for each performance. That’s what it’s all about.”

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