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Christmas at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Christmas is not cancelled and the show will go on. Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford is bringing a big dose of festive cheer to the stage with its production of The Snow Queen. Be quick though, tickets are selling fast.

The Christmas show must go on! And it will… at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford. Oh yes it is!

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre wasn’t about to let something as trifling as a global pandemic prevent the staging of a magical Christmas show, despite having to cancel their well-loved panto – this year, Robin Hood – in the summer.

So this December, instead of the usual cries of ‘he’s behind you’ – audiences will instead be treated to a magical adaptation of the timeless Hans Christian-Anderson fairy tale, The Snow Queen.

The cast of The Snow Queen, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
The cast: Rosa Hesmondhalgh, Lewis Bruniges, Matilda Tucker, Helena Antoniou and Eric Stroud.

The story is aimed squarely at children and families, and centres around the feisty Gerda who sets out on a journey to save her best friend Kai, who has fallen victim to the powers of the Snow Queen. Gerda must travel to the frozen north, meeting (from a socially acceptable distance) and making friends along the way who help her in her quest to release Kai from the Snow Queen’s icy spell.

The production has been adapted for the stage by British playwright and writer Nick Stafford. And for those who don’t know, this is the same guy who adapted Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse for the stage – a production that’s scooped up oodles of awards including the Tony Award for best play.

His adaptation of The Snow Queen was his first production when he was writer-in-residence at the Young Vic and it ran there for two years in the early Nineties.

Joanna Read, director and chief executive at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
Joanna Read, who heads up the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, is directing this year’s Christmas production The Snow Queen.

This production of The Snow Queen is directed by Joanna Read, the director and chief executive at Yvonne Arnaud. Read herself has a pretty impressive CV. She was the Principle at LAMDA – in fact, the first female principle – for eight years before coming to Guildford, and before that she headed up Salisbury Playhouse. She has a string of high-profile productions under her belt including the UK premiere of Arthur Miller’s Playing For Time with Joanna Riding, Shadowlands with Julian Glover and The Hired Man by Howard Goodall and Melvyn Bragg.

But this production is unlike any other because of the need for social distancing. It’s a small cast of just five actors – Eric Stroud, Helena Antoniou, Lewis Bruniges, Matilda Tucker and Rosa Hesmondhalgh – who each take on multiple roles.

Rosa is known for her autobiographical play Madame Ovary, which she wrote while she was in hospital having treatment for ovarian cancer at the age of 23. It opened at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and then toured the UK throughout 2019 and early 2020 including dates at Yvonne Arnaud.

The Snow Queen is running at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford from Fri 11 to Thurs 24 Dec. Tickets are on sale now. Adults £27.50, children £22.50, family ticket £90. Book here.

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