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Fort Wayne Youtheatre brings fresh voice to frosty fairy tale

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'The Snow Queen'

What: A wintry story based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Children Kai and Gerda travel to the land of the Snow Queen, where they discover the power of good over evil. The story is adapted for the stage by Fort Wayne Youtheatre Artistic Director Harvey Cocks, who also directs the shows.
When: 7 p.m. Friday; and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St.
Cost: $15 adults; $10 children/seniors; $7 groups of 10 or more. Get tickets by calling 422-4226 or at the ArtsTix Community Box Office, 303 E. Main St., open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon-4 p.m. Saturdays.
Etc.: Pre-show party — the Ice Castle Ball. Meet the cast and enjoy a cocktail buffet provided by Club Soda at 6 p.m. Friday. $5 for children; $10 for adults.

Play adapted from Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 - 12:01 am

Take a trip to the frosty palace of “The Snow Queen” this weekend with Fort Wayne Youtheatre.

Artistic Director Harvey Cocks adapted the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale for Youtheatre and directs the show, featuring a cast of 18.

It took almost a year and several rewrites before Cocks was satisfied.

Cocks added humor and buffoonery to the story, said Leslie Hormann, Youtheatre executive director.

“Any age children will get a thrill out of it,” said Cocks, who did not create an evil queen in his version of the story.

In the tale the Snow Queen takes a boy named Kai to her palace near the North Pole, where he is content to live due to splinters in his heart and eyes that have hade him unable to feel and see things clearly.

His friend, Gerda, goes to the Snow Queen's palace to bring Kai back, and the rest … well, you'll have to go to the show to find out.

Although the Snow Queen appears to be a villain, “all her evilness stems from the fact she wants a child to love,” said Hormann, who described the show as a classic tale of good vs. evil.

Kia Miller, 22, who plays the Snow Queen, said it's an interesting role to play because the Snow Queen has an overwhelming desire to have a child in her life — “that is something you wouldn't associate as bad” — but the way she goes about it is not good.

Miller, who graduated in April from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla., is a Youtheatre veteran. She started taking classes in fourth grade, and was in her first show in seventh grade. She participated through her senior year in high school. Now she teaches a Voice for the Stage class at Youtheatre. She's also the drama director at Bishop Dwenger High School, is a speech coach at Carroll High School, and is a substitute teacher at Fort Wayne Community Schools.

This is her first role as an adult with Youtheatre.

“I grew up with Youtheatre, and I'm still growing up with Youtheatre,” she said.

Miller took classes from Cocks in eighth grade and has worked with him on several shows.

“As a kid, it was always, 'This is the great Harvey Cocks,'” she said. “Now, as an adult, I'm getting to know him better as a person rather than a director.”

Show business has been Cocks' life. Born in the vaudeville era and the son of a theater manager, Cocks spent 30 years performing on Broadway, TV and radio. He knew stage stars, playwrights and directors.

Miller said she has been privileged to hear some of Cocks' stories.

“Wow, he has such a background, and he's learned so much over the span of his life,” she said.

Youtheatre tries to cast most of its shows with youths, but, in the case of “The Snow Queen,” two roles are played by adults. In addition to Miller, Linda McCormick plays the “hag.” Youths are cast in the other roles, including Sydney Gamble as Gerta and Noah Cook as Kai.

From her vantage point as an adult, Miller can sit back and “listen to the kind of feedback Harvey gives them.” She said it's nice to watch the youths discover things on their own, and she's impressed with their behavior and talent.

“They're very experienced and very good at what they're doing,” she said.

The show also will include performances by the choirs of Hickory Center and Oakview elementary schools, as well as the Fort Wayne Children's Choir.