Kelie Miley, director of the Savannah Children's Theatre, has always wanted to do a production of Snow White.
In true fairy-tale fashion, her wish is coming true with the opening of Snow White on April 18. “It’s an original script adaptation of the Grimm fairy tale,” Miley says. “I was having a hard time finding a Snow White script that I liked.”
At a theater conference, Miley met Max Bush, a popular playwright for children’s theater who lives in Michigan. “At first, he said, ‘Nobody wants to do Snow White,’” Miley says. “I said, ‘I want to do Snow White!’ I wanted to do an original type of Snow White. I wanted something closer to the Grimm Brothers version.
“We talked a long time, and then he called me,” Miley says. “He was looking for the original German manuscript from the girl who told the story to the Grimm Brothers. If he found it, we’d go from there.”
Finally, Bush found the manuscript, and based his play on it. “It’s very true to the original story,” Miley says. “It’s not a musical. There are no singing birds, no singing deer.”
Bush did more than write the play. He’s come to Savannah to meet with the children, he’s attended auditions and he will return just before the play opens.
There are some major differences in the original Snow White story, as compared to the Disney version. “In the original story, the queen is not the stepmother, she’s Snow White’s mother,” Miley says. “I think that’s heavy.”
Even though the queen is Snow White’s mother, she’s evil. She’s so jealous of Snow White’s youth and beauty, she plots to kill her.
“We go through all the ways the queen tries to kill Snow White,” Miley says. “Young girls today are pushed into caring about their physical appearance. That carries over to Snow White. The queen is not happy about growing older.”
The queen brings Snow White “gifts,” such as laces for her corset, combs for her hair and, of course, the infamous apple. All are potentially deadly because the queen has body image issues.
“This shows it started at least back in the 1700s, and we’re still dealing with it in these times,” Miley says. “It’s not monster-scary, it’s scary in the fact that the people who take care of you aren’t always kind and good.”
Some differences are pleasant. “Snow White doesn’t just meet the prince at the end,” Miley says. “They get to know each other before the end, when he asks her to marry him.”
And there are some very familiar aspects of the story -- the seven dwarves, the magic mirror, and the glass coffin, which Miley says has been a challenge to make.
This show may not be a musical, but it’s very theatrical. The story is told by a storyteller, who remains on stage.
“This is a good way to enjoy a story with your children and then talk about why the story has endured so very long,” Miley says. “It’s amazing to me — when I’m teaching every week, I assume the children know Snow White. They don’t. We will be doing at least one fairy tale at least every other year here because I like these stories.”
What: A Savannah Children’s Theatre production of Snow White. When: April 18 and 25 and May 2 at 7 p.m. and April 19, 20, 26 and 27 and May 3 and 4 at 3 p.m. Where: Savannah Children's Theatre, 2160 E. Victory Dr. Cost: $10. Info: 238-9015 or www.savannahchildrenstheatre.org.