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A CurtainUp Review
Rose and the Rime

"This has all happened before." — Uncle Roger
rose and rime
Amy Rapp (Jessica Sherman Photography)
The mercury is plunging and with the chilly weather comes a frosty sense of de ja vu. We've got a town stuck in perpetual winter and a plucky girl on a dangerous quest to confront the sorceress who brought on the brrr. No, our heroine does not utter the phrase,"Oh, Sven, I don't think we're in Arendelle anymore."

In fairness, this is not intended to be a sequel or a redo, and the origins of the fable 2006 Rose and the Rime, several years before Disney released Frozen and buried the kiddie lexicon under a blanket of all things Elsa, Anna, Olaf and "Let it go."

Of course as Hans Christian Andersen demonstrated more than a century and a half ago in The Snow Queen, there's something heart-warming-) about a snow witch and Rose and the Rime has such a witch and quite a bit more.

The West Coast premiere by the Sacred Fools Theater contains no shortage of wonderment. In reuniting key members of his technical team from the Fool's 2012 Hollywood Fringe production of Hamlet Max, director Jacob Sidney gives this unusual fable the visual pizzazz that it deserves.

Given the play's dark sensibility and rather quizzical logic (even for a fairy tale), any production of Rose and Rime can probably use all the atmospheric bells and whistles it can muster.

Our setting is a small burg called Radio Falls, Michigan, where the townspeople use walkie-talkies to stay in constant communication and are always looking out for each other and particularly for Rose (played by Amy Rapp), a favorite daughter who was also the last town inhabitant to be born in summer.

Alas, there has been no summer in Radio Falls since the Rime Witch placed a curse on the town when Rose was still a baby. One night, Rose, who has been raised by her uncle Roger (Andy Hirsch) following her parents' deaths, asks for a few more details surrounding the oft-told story of her birth, and learns that a magical coin might undo the curse. Off she goes in search of the Rime Witch to bring back the coin and, hopefully, the heat.

Rose's quest is plenty perilous. Sje braves the elements, a pack of menacing tree wolves, an ice cave, and ultimately the witch herself (Desiree Mee Jung). She succeeds, but when you bring warmth to a community that has functioned around chill, naturally you make trade-offs. Parkas are left behind in favor of bikinis and hot dogs replace hot chocolate.

Rose pairs up with Jimmy (Brian Brennan), a cute visitor from another town, and she ends up getting everything she wants, and maybe a couple of things she doesn't.

As written by Sacred Fools company members Nathan Allen, Chris Matthews and Jake Minton, Rose and the Rime taps into some clever fairy tale conventions without pandering in the slightest to a younger audience. The play has some moral ambiguity, and, in this tale, when people make the wrong choices, events can cycle back and recur although it's not particularly clear here what those bad choices were.

If you don't think too hard about the play's logic, you'll find Sidney's rendering to be an unabashed delight. A trio of video screens created by Hillary Bauman allow for some splendid wintry effects. Linda Muggeridge and Mandi Moss have outfitted the company in a fanciful assortment of costumes (the winter to summer change is a kick).

Lighting designer Andrew Schmedake and sound and video designer Corwin Evans help complete the picture while the giant mottled gray rabbit fashioned by Miles Taber is a floppy, long eared scene poacher. Rapp ably leads the 12-person company.

This one won't necessarily warm the cockles of your heart, but for visual splendor in a small space, Rose and the Rime is certainly a winter winner.

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Rose and the Rime
Written by Nathan Allen, Chris Matthews and Jake Minton
Directed by Jacob Sidney
Cast: Brian Brennan, Corinne Chooey, Sean Faye, Andy Hirsch, Desiree Mee Jung, Aaron Mendelson, Mandi Moss, Amy Rapp, Allison Reeves and Bart Tangredi
Production and Scenic Design/Projection Illustration/Scenic Paint: Hillary Bauman
Costume Design: Linda Muggeridge and Mandi Moss
Lighting Design: Andrew Schmedake
Sound and Video Design: Corwin Evans
Props Design: Joyce Hutter
Fight Choreographer: Andrew Joseph Perez
Puppet Designer: Miles Taber
Motion Graphics Designer: Chris Hutchings
Production Stage Manager: Katherine Hoevers
Musical Director: Crystal Keith
Dance Choreographer: Sierra Taylor
Plays through February 25, 2017 at the Sacred Fools Mainstage Theater, 1076 Lillian Way, Hollywood (310) 281-8337,
Running time: One hour and fifteen minutes with no intermission
Reviewed by Evan Henerson

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