questioner eyed Laura Van Devender’s warm, cherub-like expression and wondered how on earth she possibly could transform herself into the Evil Queen in the upcoming “The Dwarf’s Tale of Snow White.”
“She’s got two younger sisters — that’s how,” said Caroline Luehrmann, one of two people along with Katie Hodge playing the sweet and demure title character.
Van Devender quickly shot her best if-looks-could-kill menacing gaze as proof that she can turn dark and stormy.
Good and evil go head to head in a comical way, thanks to the seven fanciful dwarfs, in Dancers Studio Inc.’s presentation April 10 at Old National Bank’s First Fridays for Families and a follow-up presentation with “Snow White” and other works April 18 and 19 at Columbus’ Judson Erne Auditorium. This marks the first time the nonprofit studio has produced the show since 2010.
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Lest you see it as a simple, innocent fairy tale, allow Luehr-mann to explain the lead role as one far beyond basic entertainment.
“I think one lesson is that it’s important to remain positive even when you are suffering,” Luehr-mann said. “The Evil Queen definitely makes Snow White do all the cooking and the cleaning. But Snow White is shown to be still cheerful enough to dance even for the little animals.
“And I think there might be a misconception that modern princesses have to be very strong and doing things that the men can’t. But I believe there is a different kind of strength in simply being sweet and happy.”
Director Alma Wiley acknowledged that she assigns roles partly according to dancer personalities. So Julia Vanderkolk said it’s hardly a surprise that she was cast as dwarf Happy, given her big, bright, toothy smile.
“I definitely felt this role fit me well,” said Vanderkolk, who referred to herself as “a Disney addict.”
And she’s happy to report that it’s a nice step up from her previous “Snow White” role as a squirrel.
To add to her apparent happiness, Happy plays an accordion onstage — only with the sound actually turned off, which makes the instrument sound like a sinister Darth Vader. So Vanderkolk hopes the production soundtrack will be cranked to a level to awaken even the snoozing Snow White, lest the heavy breathing actually dwarf the music.
Wiley always has loved the production — this one with storytellers Polly Verbanic and Amelia Jones — and said she believes audiences will love it, too.
“It’s one of the favorite children’s ballets I’ve ever done,” Wiley said. “When I watch our (previous) video, it literally still cracks me up. As I’m seeing it, I don’t even feel like I created it. I especially love a scene called the sleeping dance at the dwarfs’ house.
“It’s just hysterical.”
Saving the day, and Snow White, will be local dancer Grant Jackson as the prince. Sadly, his father, Ben Jackson, who died as the Rat King in December’s “The Nutcracker,” bites the dust again in this show.
“He jokes that his goal is to make it through an entire show alive,” Vanderkolk said.
What: The Columbus Area Arts Council presenting Old National Bank’s First Fridays for Families. Dancers Studio Inc. will perform the comical “The Dawrf’s Tale of Snow White.”
When: 6 p.m. April 10.
Where: The Commons, 300 Washington St., Columbus.
Information: 812-376-2539 or artsincolumbus.org.
What: “The Dwarf’s Tale of Snow White and Other Works,” presented by Dancers Studio Inc.
The first half will be “Snow White.” The second half will consist of contemporary works, including ex-Louisville Ballet member Amanda Lahti choreographing a basketball parody; Indy choreographer Nic Owens setting a lively work on his modern dance class at the studio; studio director Alma Wiley teaming with student choreographer Sonia DiOrio on a large group piece to the music, “Milennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World.”
When: 7 p.m. April 18 and 2:30 p.m. April 19.
Where: Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St., Columbus.
Admission: $10 and $15 in advance at kidscommons and Donner Center. Prices are $12 and $17 at the door.