If innocence and wonder feel like they’re in mighty short supply these days, I’ve got just the show for you. Good news: You can even bring your children.
The vibrant friends and family in Peter’s world
Credit: Austin D. Oie
Emerald City Theatre’s staging of “The Snowy Day and Other Stories” by Ezra Jack Keats brings the iconic kid in the oversized red snowsuit to the stage where he cheerfully belongs. Keats’ genuine love for children shined through in Snowy Day, as did his fantastic habit of portraying minorities–during a time in the 1960s when it was highly unusual to do so.
The tales, gently directed by Artistic Director Jacqueline Stone, center around Peter, an imaginative boy who awakens one morning to discover a freshly fallen winter wonderland; what else is there to do besides explore?
Adapted for the stage by Jerome Hairston, the beauty of Peter’s journey is in its simplicity. There’s no manufactured drama or villain (aside from a brief–and ultimately victorious–run-in with neighborhood Big Kids over found treasure) but an honest narrative of childhood joy that many audience members can immediately and viscerally relate to. (Think I’m kidding? Take a look around the theater while the cast prepares the “snowy” hill from a play parachute–the kind we adored in gym class–and watch whose reactions are strongest; it ain’t just the under-10 set.)
Terry Bell does beautiful justice to the beloved character of Peter, who has the distinct honor of being the first young Black protagonist in a children’s picture book. Bell’s Peter has a curiosity and sweetness that carries him through all of the stories, and is wonderfully surrounded and supported by Kirra Silver, Felix Mayes and Sydney Charles as the vibrant friends and family in his world.
Stylistically, this lovely show evokes Keats’ illustrations, which used layering and collaging techniques to set a tone and texture unlike any other. Emotionally, it invites you to come over and play for a while in the coziest and dreamiest of childhood settings. Whichever draws you in more, you’ll ultimately admit there’s no better way to spend an unexpected snowy morning.