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Review: The Snow Queen at the Lyric Theatre could be this Christmas's coolest family show

The Snow Queen played by Ruby Campbell entraps Gerda, Calla Hughes Nic Aoidh when she arrives at the Ice Palace in mystical Finnmark
Anne Hailes

The Snow Queen

Lyric Theatre

Until December 31

IT was just like any other day. Grandmother (Christina Nelson) is checking the roses that grow all round her terrace and below on the town pavement.

Gerda (Calla Hughes Nic Aoidh) is bobbing around with the boys and girls, singing and dancing and waiting for her special friend Kai (Ben McGarvey) to arrive with the daily delivery of roses from the local flower shop.

It's roses all the way, the most loved bloom of grandmother, a woman with a secret.

So it began like any other day... but it wasn't to last, and a mystery begins. There's a sudden chill in the air, it's bitterly cold and the fountain freezes... The Snow Queen (Ruby Campbell) is on her way.

She spirits Kai away, and Gerda goes looking for him, travelling to the Snow Queen's palace in Finnmark. On the way she meets some strange and colourful people, including her great aunts who have special powers.

I couldn't imagine how this famous Hans Christian Andersen story would adapt for stage but writer and director Paul Boyd gives his audience an impressive couple of hours.

You might think this Christmas production is basically for children, but the adults in the Lyric as totally enthralled as well. My escort was 14-year-old Charlie Hailes from Lisburn and his review was interesting: "I thought the show was unique and well thought out, the technical side of the show was creative and the acting and singing were spot on."

A small cast of seven, including Christopher Finn, Darren Franklin, Aaron Halliwell, the entire stage management team, the set designer Stuart Marshall. lighting by Mary Tumelty and costumes from Gillian Lennox are all outstanding.

And as for the reindeer... if he wasn't already working, I think Father Christmas would sign him up to help deliver presents.

For me the outstanding moment was when we first meet the Snow Queen, sitting on her throne in the ice palace. This is where the lighting is at its most effective, conjuring a stunning image.

Like all fairy stories there are lessons to be learned and everyone goes home happy.

My one big disappointment was the fact there is no programme available - we're directed to the foyer and told to scan a QR code on your phone to get an electronic version.

If you do manage to download the print is so small it's difficult to read and, for children and reviewers, it's a nightmare to use. Saving money is one thing but having no tangible memento of a wonderful show is another.

:: The Snow Queen. Lyric Theatre until December 31.

:: Ruby Campbell, who plays the Snow Queen, interviewed in Midweek Review, P23

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