The Steadfast Tin Soldier Review – Magical and Whimsical

Alex Stein and Artistic-Associate Kasey Foster. Photo: Liz Lauren.

As the holiday season rolls around, I’m sure we all have our favorite stories and tales we love to read and listen to. We might be lucky if some of these beloved tales are performed on stage. Perhaps seeing your favorite characters and stories bought to life is something to look forward to as a yearly tradition.

There is a performance this year that should be added to your list as a must watch for this holiday/winter season. The Steadfast Tin Soldier from the Hans Christian Anderson tale which was developed and directed by Mary Zimmerman. The world premiere is playing at the Lookingglass Theater Company is perfect for friends, family, and visitors of any age.  

The cast of THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER. Photo: Liz Lauren.

Visually stunning from the start, the set up while waiting for the show is an advent calendar on stage whose doors are opened by various characters over time and moves into the story. This whimsical stage adaptation is filled with music, love and adventure. It has something for everyone to enjoy. The story is accompanied with live musicians including Leandro Lopez Varady (Piano), Greg Hirte (Violin), Michal Palzewicz (Cello), and Constance Volk(Woodwinds) at the front of the stage. The music complements the story, wonderful for the audience to follow the direction, mood, and emotions of the story and characters.

Musicians Leandro Lopez Varady (piano), Michal Palzewicz(cello), Greg Hirte (violin), and Constance Volk (flute). Photo: Liz Lauren.

The acting was splendid. With no dialogue at all, we not only see but with music accompaniment feel the Steadfast Tin Soldier (Alex Stein) fall in love with a paper Ballerina (Kasey Foster), maintain dignity coming face to face with Goblin(Anthony Irons) in disguise as a jack-in-the-box toy, and stay brave while encountering a toddler’s antics who is at the care of a Nursemaid (Christopher Donahue) and even a Rat (John Gregorio) during an unexpected journey. Although it has an unforeseen ending- that is, if you are unfamiliar with the original tale as I was, there is closure to this story that I thought was breathtaking and beautiful.

Artistic Associates Anthony Irons, Kasey Foster, and Christopher Donahue. Photo: Liz Lauren.

 Mary Zimmerman said in an interview featured in the printed program that this is Han Christian Andersen’s only story made up himself and that she was drawn to The Steadfast Tin Soldier because” it felt personal to her”, the story “is full of incident, very visual, full of unrequited love.” I agree.

With its colorful costumes, whimsical characters, puppets and live music, the story of a tin toy soldier came splendidly to life. It is just as magical as other tales, no words needed. 

Photo: Liz Lauren

The Steadfast Tin Soldier runs from November 20, 2018 to January 13, 2019 with shows on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The performance is one hour with no intermission. Lookingglass Theatre Company is located inside the Water Tower Water Works at 821 W. Pearson, Chicago, Il. For tickets and more information visit their website here.

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