Snow White, the seven dwarves, the evil queen and the handsome prince all will be returning for a second visit to Glen Echo Park starting Saturday.
But this time the 40-minute show staged by the Puppet Co. will have new leads and new voices.
“They are going to be different than the previous Snow White and Prince, and the voices they use for the dwarves they manipulate will vary too,” says Erin Gifford, communications director for The Puppet Co.
Snow White’s return after the show’s first run 18 months ago is timely. It follows two recent films based on the Snow White tale “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “Mirror, Mirror,” starring Charlize Theron and Julia Roberts, respectively, as the evil queen.
But Puppet Co. co-founder Allan Stevens says the timing is just a coincidence the company already had planned to run its version of the famous German fairy tale as part of its routine repetition of a new production 18 months later before it enters the troupe’s repertory of more than 20 shows.
“Snow White and the 7 Dwarves” is set to run through Sept. 2.
Founded in 1983, the Puppet Co. reworks classic fairy tales to give kids who already may be familiar with stories from books, movies or TV a little variation on the basic themes.
“It gives them something to think about,” says Puppet Co. co-founder Christopher Piper.
In the troupe’s version of the story, each dwarf has a unique power, such as super hearing and super sight.
“I didn’t want funny little men for the dwarves,” Piper says. “We gave each of them some very special abilities to help Snow White.”
The show’s creators also work in a moral message, in this case the value of teamwork to reach a common goal.
“Working together can really accomplish the deal,” says Stevens about the dwarves using their powers to come to the aid of Snow White, who has been targeted by a queen who is jealous of her beauty.
The multimedia show features colorful dwarf puppets, which sit atop rods that can be manipulated to move heads, arms and facial expressions.
It also features human actors in costumes and masks.
New this year as Snow White is Molly MacKenzie, a recent graduate of George Mason University who has studied acting, ballet and singing.
Also new as the prince is Mason O’Sullivan, also a graduate of George Mason, who has studied film and theater.
In addition to the actors and puppets, there also is a “magic mirror” displaying animated scenes created by the Puppet Co.
“It helps move the plot along by showing the dwarves walking through the forest or carrying Snow White in her glass case,” Piper says.
Both Piper and Stevens perform in the show and also manipulate the puppets when off stage, as do MacKenzie and O’Sullivan.
Unlike some companies, the focus remains on the plot, not on tricks or gimmicks involving the puppets.
“We’re basically story tellers,” Piper says. “We want to convey with our dialogue and not let the movement get in the way of the story.”
The son of puppeteers, Piper traveled the country with his parents before happening to meet Stevens at Glen Echo Park in the early 1980s.
Stevens, who fell in love with puppets at age 5, by that time had moved into studio space in the park and invited Piper and his wife, Mayfield, to join him in creating a puppet company.
In February 2004, they opened a new playhouse in the park designed especially for puppet shows.
“You have the ability to create the universe and control the design and what the characters are without 150 people to build the scenery,” Stevens says. “With only four of five people, you’re able to create large productions.”