Walk into 1314 Martin Luther King Jr. Way on the Tacoma Hilltop and you go through an old storefront into a magical winter world of white lace, sparkling mirrors and theater that pulls in its young audience.
“I’m trying to sneak in as much as possible to get the audience involved,” said Cindy Arnold, director of children’s art-and-theater group Live Paint. “That’s really what theater is about. I want them to feel as if they are part of it.”
And they definitely will. After being welcomed at the door by actors, visitors to this weekend’s performance of the Hans Christian Anderson tale “The Snow Queen” can do arts activities (aimed at ages 3-8) before entering the tiny theater space, transformed by Arnold into a magical land with an icy blue-white floor, glittery tree branches, silvery tinsel, a purple throne and a frosted mirror. Acting out the story are Arnold as the queen who becomes cold and harsh when a piece of a wicked mirror falls in her eye, and a pair of Tacoma sisters, Rosemary (10) and Lula (5) Sissel, playing children Gerda and Kay. As Gerda decides to rescue Kay from the wicked Queen, she coaxes the audience with convincing charm to the back theater space, decked with green boughs, flowers and fairy lights – the home of the Spring Queen (Edith Acosta), where Gerda and the audience children all get to make magical wands that will break the Snow Queen’s spell through love.
It’s an enchanting concept: using theater and art to encourage young children to use their own imaginations to tell a story, and one Arnold has been building up to during the past few years with Live Paint’s interactive children’s art storytelling workshops.
A theater major who toured internationally with the musical “Hair,” Arnold has taken Live Paint around the world, including a gig next summer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Now that she has a theater space, courtesy of the city of Tacoma’s Spaceworks program, she can create a magical world to help children tell their own imaginative stories.
There’s only one performance of “The Snow Queen,” but with an upcoming grant, Arnold is hoping to have more shows in February.
“It’s been a joy doing it,” she said.Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/arts