Highly Recommended **** When I hear the name Mary Zimmerman, somehow, Chinese Myth does not come to mind. However, this clever playwright who has been bringing her magic to the Goodman Theatre stages for twenty years has created a magical , mystical love story , based on the classic Chinese Fable, in her Chicago premiere of “The White Snake”.100 minutes with no intermission. Sheer artistry as directed by Zimmerman herself. In fact, one might call this a well choreographed piece instead of directed as the movement is as graceful as if each and every actor is in fact a dancer, or even a skater gliding from spot to spot.
The set (Daniel Ostling) is an open stage with side walls and a unit that comes from below to be a bed , a work-station or even a chamber. The lighting ( (T.J.Gerckens) and costumes (Mara Blumenfeld) are solid touches to the charm of this production as well as the original music and sound by Andre Pluess. The added projections ( what appears to be a new part of live theater) is by Shawn Sagady. These are all a major part of the visuals and what we hear. Add to this the puppetry and the superb cast and you can see why this new play will be around for many years to come. Let’s fact it, the story is 2,000 years old already, what’s a few more hundred years?
The story/myth is about the love story- boy meets girl, but in this case, the girl is not an ordinary girl, but in fact a White serpent from the spirit world, who along with her friend Greenie ( another snake) must cross the barrier and become human to have the love that she desires. A Monk, finding this not to be proper gets involved and attempts to keep them apart, despite their wedded bliss and a child on the way. This is a mix of myth and reality and of the age old question, “can true love overcome any obstacle?”.
Zimmerman answers this in bringing us a true love story where despite what others say or feel, we, the audience fall in love with the character that is supposedly evil and what we learn is a valuable lesson about judging others on what you hear or waht is being said.. After all, just because we hear something, is it truth? Think about that!
In the role of The White Snake, Amy Kim Waschke wins us over. She glides over the stage and brings us a character that we feel good about, despite the knowledge that she is ,in fact a serpent. Her co-hort The Green Snake is deftly handled by the adorable Tanya Thai McBride. She is hysterical. Xu Xian, the lover is played to perfection by Jon Norman Schneider and the evil Fa Hai ( and others) by the always reliable Matt DeCaro.
The other cast members Stephanie Sooyhun Park, Lisa Tejero, Cristofer Jean, Vin Kridakorn,Emily Sophia Knapp, Richard Howard and Eliza Shin along with Flutes/Tessa Brinckman,Strings/percussion by Ronnie mailey and Cello by Michael Palzewicz show how diversified the cast of this production is. They are actors and musicians from all walks of life who come together to bring the magical spell to this beautiful story to the stage.
“The White Snake” will continue at The Goodman Theatre located at 170 N. Dearborn Street through June 8th with performances as follows:
Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ( on 6/8)
Tickets range from $25-$86 and are available at the box office, by calling 312- 443-3800 or online at www.GoodmanTheatre.org/WhiteSnake
Every Friday performance offers a pre-show discussion and on Wednesday and Thursday evening a post show discussion.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The White Snake