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'Snow White' coming to the Chief Theatre

Members of the Bemidji Community Theater rehearse a scene Monday night for the production of "Snow White and Seven Dwarfs," which opens Friday at the Chief Theatre. Snow White, played by Hannah Marty, is surrounded by the seven miners who befriend her. The play is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday. A 4 p.m. performance will be offered Tuesday, April 5. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

The fairy tale of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" has been read to generations of children around the world.

The tales by the Brothers Grimm in the early 19th century were taken from the original German folktales. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm wrote and re-wrote the Gothic myths with their remote and gloomy setting in medieval Germany. In time, their stories totaled more than 215 different "morality" plays." The first edition of the Brothers Grimm's tales was published in 1812 and also included "Little Red Riding Hood," "Sleeping Beauty," "Cinderella" and "Snow White. The first staging of the play "Snow White" is reputed to have been in 1912, but it was the 1937 Disney version that gave the dwarfs names that are usually associated with the story.

Bemidji Community Theater invites the public to enter a village in medieval Germany when they step through the doors of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse to see this musical version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," with script and music written by Carol Weiss. This production, a collaboration of BCT and the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, will open at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 3. A 4 p.m. show will also be offered Tuesday, April 5. All of the performances will be at the Chief Theatre in downtown Bemidji. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and are on sale now at Ken K Thompson in the Paul Bunyan Mall and Iverson Corner Drug in downtown Bemidji and, if available, at the door. For information about the school shows on Monday and Tuesday, April 4 and 5, email

An open rehearsal will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, at the playhouse for those who want to get a peek at the show. There are many familiar faces on the stage and some newcomers to BCT, all are excited to bring this newest family musical to Bemidji.

Director Mary Knox-Johnson designed the multi-level set to which set builder Dwayne Johnson brought his skill and imagination. The opening set is of the Queen's Castle, and painters Dianne Roholt, Bemidji State University student Kirin Peterson and Greg Wilimek have worked together to simulate a castle in a village. At the second half of the first act, the set revolves to discover the Dwarfs' humble surroundings.

"It is exhilarating to work on a production that involves such a huge collaboration - Greg's trees, Kirin's castle and Dianne's Cloisonne' mirror are exceptional," said master carpenter Johnson.

In this version, the dwarfs are miners with names like: Keeper who keeps the books, Picker has the pick axe, Packer who packs the cart with rocks and emeralds, Woeful is the sweeper, Grinder grinds the rocks and is also the cook, Cutter cuts the emeralds and Mouse, who is quiet and shy and the observant one. Look for the Tole paintings by Roholt on the cabinetry of the house.

In the long tradition of BCT, community members were welcome to audition for the 31 parts and more than 70 people turned out. One of them was Marlene Moore. A choir member at Ardahl Lutheran Church, Moore auditioned because the church accompanist Wayne Hoff was going to be associated with it. A very spry and strong-voiced 75-year-old, Moore said she thought it would be fun to be in a play. Moore plays the wisecracking mirror who only answers when questioned in rhyme. She reminds the Queen that "Every deed you do, reflects on you."

The Queen is played by newcomer to BCT's children's musicals, Ann Tichy, last seen as the harried mother of the bride in "Plaza Suite." The Queen's sister, Witch Wicked (Kaija Roy) sets the stage for the show by explaining how Snow White came to live at the castle in the first place. Musical Director Karen Bradley and accompanist Hoff are a musical team that has come to personify quality musicals in Bemidji. They, along with choreographer Cathy Marcotte, have the cast singing and dancing through 14 lively musical numbers. Not all the songs are lively for the Dwarfs sing a dirge, "The Funeral," when they think Snow White has died. The prince comes in to see the girl in his visions, lying in state. He bends to kiss her goodbye and, well, you know the rest of the story.