Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Snow White: A Guide to Child-Centered Musical Theater

Snow White
A Guide to Child-Centered Musical theater
Patricia Rickard-Lauri, Book
Harriet Groeschel, Illustrations
Carol M. Robbins, Michele S. Rotholz, and Allan Turry, Music
Clive Robbins, Lyrics

"Once upoon a time in the middle of winter, a queen sat at her window working. The snowflakes were falling like beautiful feathers from the sky. She was working on her ebony embroidery frame. As she worked she pricked her finger. Three drops of blood fell upon her white work. When she saw how bright and red it looked she said, 'Oh, I wish to have a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of my embroidery frame,'

After a short time, the Queen had a daughter. The lovely child had skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as ebony. The Queen named her baby girl 'Snow White.' ”1 And so, the story begins.

Even in today’s jaded and technologically centered culture, there is not one child who, at one time or another, has not seen himself, or herself, as an actor in this story. It is the child’s ability to participate in this story, and to carry those memories into adulthood, which have turned this Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale, into the classic that it is. Those childhood memories are brought back to life when one passes that experience onto other children, and one sees in the child’s face the same joy, the same emotions, one has stored in the subconscious. Snow White is loved by all, for we have all lived part of the story.

This unique version of the classic fairy tale, takes Snow White one step further: aside from the simplified story, there is a play version adapted for children of all ages; there is a musical score and musical directives, as well as easily understood lyrics; there are productions notes and stage and lighting directions, easy to follow costumes and set design suggestions, along with a compact disk which includes voice and instrumental renditions for each song.

"There's so much to be done on a morning bright and clear,
So much to be done to fill a house with cheer.
I've tidied up the bedroom, I've tidied up the hall,
Now to tidy up the cupboards, and that, I think, is all.

So sing, sing, sing a happy, song,
As you shine, as you straighten, as you scrub.
Oh! sing, sing, sing, a happy, happy song,
Then the work won't take so very, very long!

Those seven little men, I really must declare,
To make their house a loving home, they need a woman's care.
To make their house a loving home, they need a woman's care."2

Unlike most productions, this version of Snow White is conceived and presented from the point of view of the child, with easily understood dialogue, task directions, etc. This all in one production is ideal for a school/class room project, an overnight children's birthday or pajama party, a summer camp event, neighborhood play or community project. The opportunities are varied, as both the play and the score were written with children of all levels of ability, and comprehension, in mind.

There is one section devoted to drama exercises to help the children express different emotions and situations. Aside from the appropriate drawing, there are simple directions for the child to follow. To express being tired, yawn, “bringing hand up and covering up the yawn, stretch, then slowly sink to the floor into a reclining and sleeping position ....” 3 For anger, the child should walk “...stamping feet; scowl at other people; shake fists....”4 Simple enough, one might think, but for a child it is not as easy to know the subtleties of mimicking these actions, as it is for an adult. Another section, using the same approach,is devoted to dance and movement exercises.

"White as snow, pretty maid, pretty maid,
Red as blood, pretty maid, pretty maid,
And black as ebony , black as ebony,
Pretty maid, pretty maid...."5

The book itself is a work of art with many exquisite color drawings of actual children in a performance of the play; and the text has been simplified for easier understanding and access for those who are too young, or have disabilities. There is a glossary covering descriptions of some of the words, and possible scenarios to help the adult in the explanation, and presentation, of the words to the children. The script for the play provides all the narrative, and dialogue.

Clive and Carol Robbins
The accompanying CD provides two versions of the score: one version has the lyrics sung by children, the other version is instrumental to facilitate rehearsals and performance, should a pianist not be available. The music for this mini “Broadway Musical” is simple enough for children to relate and remember, yet clearly thought out to realistically project all the emotions in the story and the lyrics.  One adde bonus in the CD is the performance of the music and singing by the different composers.  Of particular interest and significance are those selections by Carol and Clive Robbins, both of them now deceased.  Carol passed before this book reached publication; Clive passed in 2011.

Rickard-Lauri explains the philosophy behind this project, “We all endorse the philosophy that to be a good actor or actress, one must know everything about the play and its characters, not just one's own part. The results of this approach are natural and comfortable participants who can perform on stage with confidence and a command of what they are doing. Combining this with the fact that language skills are being taught and learned in an enjoyable and creative manner, the outcome meets a multitude of goals, both educationally and artistically.”6  One can only add that it would, enormously, help the child build self esteem, and for those children with disabilities, help them become part of the whole.

Snow White: A Guide to Child Centered Musical Theater is a very clever concept, and one that will bring joy to adults, and children alike. 

And they lived happily ever after.

Disclaimer: The reviewer knows some of the authors, and the Publisher.
Portions of this review previously appeared on Amazon, 8 February, 2009
Art Work:  Barcelona Publishers.
Photo of Clive and Carol Robbins:  Unknown.
1Rickard-Lauri, Patricia; Groeschel, Harriet; Robbins, Carol M.; Robbins, Clive; Ritholz, Michele S.; Turry, Alan, Snow White: A Guide to Child-Centered Musical Theater, Barcelona Publishers, Gilsum, N.H., 1997, p.3
2Ibid., p.491Rickard-Lauri, Patricia; Groeschel, Harriet; Robbins, Carol M.; Robbins, Clive; Ritholz, Michele S.; Turry, Alan, Snow White: A Guide to Child-Centered Musical Theater, Barcelona Publishers, Gilsum, N.H., 1997, p.3
3Ibid., p. 82
4Ibid., p. 80
5Ibid., p.54
6Ibid., p.157

No comments:

Post a Comment