Rose Passione, left, Evan Sheets and Andrew Brock in Collaborative Theatre Project's production of 'The Snow Queen,' opening Saturday, Nov. 25. [Photo by Gerry Katz]

Not your average bedtime story

A pop and rock musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale "The Snow Queen" is a coming-of-age story about a young girl on a journey of self-discovery in a magical, wintry landscape.

When her best friend Kai falls under the Snow Queen's magic spell, Gerda must follow him to the witch's frozen palace. Along the way, she battles witches, encounters fantastical characters and flies through the frozen air on a steampunk odyssey.

With book and lyrics by Rick Lombardo and Kirsten Brandt and music by Haddon Kime, "The Snow Queen" premiered in 2013 at San Jose Repertory and went on to win awards in 2014 at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, a three-week summer festival that presents more than 30 new musicals at venues in New York City's midtown theater district.

Collaborative Theatre Project's production opens Saturday, Nov. 25, and runs Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 31. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are set for 1:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. A performance schedule is at ctporegon.org.

Tickets are $25, $20 for students and seniors, and can be purchased at ctporegon.com or by calling 541-779-1055.

"The Snow Queen" was the first production of CTP's inaugural season in 2016, and it received local acclaim as solid, professional production.

"The emotional intensity of the characters, the subtle comedy and the dynamic pacing throughout kept the opening-night audience enthralled," wrote reviewer Angela Decker for the the Mail Tribune.

Back this year for an encore performance, the show features some of the original cast, along with new production designs and cast members.

Based on Andersen's tale about two childhood friends who are separated when the wicked Snow Queen takes Kai to help her solve the riddle of eternity, the boy's best friend, Gerda, is determined to find him and bring him home. Disney's "Frozen" is based on the story.

Another story behind the tale of "The Snow Queen" tells of Andersen's infatuation with the beauty and talent of a noted opera singer, Jenny Lind, known as the "Swedish Nightingale." When his affection for her was not returned, he created the cold, heartless Snow Queen who steals innocent children in retaliation for her lack of affection toward him. While originally meant as a rebuke, the fairy tale remains one of Andersen’s most enduring stories.

As Gerda (Grace Peets) sets out on her journey to save Kai (Evan Sheets), the adventure begins with an encounter with a wicked troll. Troll (Andrew Brock) pushes her into a river, and she is whirled away on the current toward her destiny. The zany Garden Witch (Catherine Hansen) and her wild garden of talking flowers rescue Gerda from the rapids and entice her to stay by feeding her magical foods that cause Gerda to forget, momentarily, her mission. Talking birds, led by the Old Crow (Brock) find her, and fly her high into the sky to take her to Kai.

Princesses, robbers, snowflakes and the spoiled Robber Girl (Beth Boulay) are part of Gerda’s magical journey to the land of the North. When she finally reaches the Queen’s (Rose Passione) palace, she is heartbroken to find a frozen, mean-spirited Kai and, in a moment of despair, almost loses her faith in her ability to save him.

Directed by Susan Aversa-Orrego, with choreography by Daniel Sessions Stevens and musical direction by Karl Iverson, "The Snow Queen" is a family holiday treat. More than 100 costume pieces, including new gowns for the Queen, new projections and lighting design by Mike Kunkel and scenic design by Cassandra Del Nero complete the production and expand upon the initial presentation.

The ensemble cast includes CJ Reid as the Grandmother, Robber Queen and Woman of the North; Beth Boulay is her wild Robber Girl daughter as well as the independent Princess; Payne Smith and Annalise Williams are featured dancers as well as a multitude of characters. Ella Rose Schaefer, Jacob Gooding, Rhea Johnston and Joshua Martin complete the cast as various flowers, trolls, birds, robbers and snowflake warriors.

Collaborative Theatre Project hosts an art gallery of work chosen to highlight the production. Diana Rasmussen of Phoenix will show her textile wall hangings and quilts throughout the run of "The Snow Queen." Rasmussen has taken lines from the play's script and pieces of some of the costume's fabrics to create a visual introduction to the world of the play.

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