Tuesday, May 28

The Snow Queen – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Always leave ‘em wanting more.  That seems to be the philosophy behind Scottish Ballet’s latest production, the fairly short but very sweet production of “The Snow Queen”.  A festive show for all the family at just 40 minutes for each of the two acts, with a 25-minute interval, this colourful charming fairy tale is perfectly pitched for all ages to enjoy without the wee ones getting too restless.

“The Snow Queen” is a Hans Christian Andersen story on which the film “Frozen” is based, but Scottish Ballet brings the original tale to life with choreography by Christopher Hampson and music by Rimsky-Korsakov played by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra conducted by Jean-Claude Picard.  It tells the story of two sisters, the Snow Queen, (Constance Devernay-Laurence) and the Summer Princess, (Alice Kawalek).  Fed up with living in the Ice Palace, the Summer Princess leaves to find love in the real world and becomes Lexi, living on the outskirts of town and stealing and picking pockets of the local people.  Two of those local folk are Gerda (Roseanna Leney) and Kai (Jerome Barnes), a young couple in love and newly engaged.  The Snow Queen is distraught and furious at her sister’s departure and when she finds her in disguise as Lexi, begs her to return.  When Lexi refuses, The Snow Queen blows shards of sparkly glass which land on Kai, causing him to reject Gerda and go with the Snow Queen.  Helped by Lexi, Gerda finds her way, via a travellers’ camp in the forest, to the Ice Palace and tries to win back Kai’s heart.  After Lexi’s arrival at the palace, she turns back into the Summer Princess, the sisters are reunited, as are Kai and Gerda, and in true fairy story style all is well and everyone lives happily ever after.

Photo: Andy Ross

Lez Brotherson’s sets are brilliantly designed, bringing colour and magic to the stage.  The town square with market stalls, carts, falling snow and even a circus with colourful lights provides an inspiring backdrop for solo and ensemble dance pieces in act one, and in the second act, the travellers’ camp has two Romany caravans on stage and a very realistic campfire.  The final scene is at the Snow Palace, all white and silver, glittering mirrors, sparkles and dry ice, a magical winter wonderland.   As production designer, Brotherson is also responsible for costumes and there has been no skimping on these either.  From the circus performers and gypsies to the snowflakes, Jackfrosts and wolves, the costumes give us colourful vibrancy and gold and silver elegance in abundance.

Dancers and music in perfect harmony is a joyous thing to see and nothing beats the sound of live music from a large orchestra.  The musical arrangement by Richard Honner hit just the right note and the dancers, whether principals or ensemble, interpreted the lively choreography just perfectly.  Violinist Gillian Rissi was on stage dressed as a gypsy musician, playing a beautiful, haunting folk melody and Jerome Barnes as Kai was particularly impressive, both in partnering Gerda and The Snow Queen.  All the principals displayed considerable acting skills as well as beautiful balletic lines.   Anyone would watch this production with child-like wonder and come out of the theatre feeling better for having seen it.

Reviewer: H. S. Baker

Reviewed: 24 November 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

“The Snow Queen” is on at Edinburgh Festival Theatre until 10th December. https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/all-shows/scottish-ballets-the-snow-queen/51

Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 14th December – 8th January.


His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 18th – 21st January.


Eden Court, Inverness, 25th – 28th January.


Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 1st – 4th February.