This world-premiere musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen” is so awkwardly amateurish in content and presentation that, given the level of some of the talent involved—including Tony Award-winning director Frank Galati—it offers proof positive that a show can add up to much less than the sum of its “what were they thinking?” parts. Could the famous fairy tale be told in folk-rock style? Perhaps, but for starters, a score is needed that actually tells the story instead of stringing a series of unrelated and unmelodic songs together about how cold it is, that the Snow Queen is coming, coming, coming (yeah, we got it after one chorus) and other tedious insights that we know already before a note is ever sung. It also would help to have the music performed in tune and with instrumentalists who are in sync (the stage drummer hopelessly lags behind the overloud electric bass player) and the attempted pseudo-Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young harmonies sometimes disintegrate into caterwauling. Could the Snow Queen and her magical world be portrayed via puppets? Could be, but a static, expressionless glittery head on top of someone in a white sheet and white rags moving in a robotic fashion is inelegantly impractical and gracelessly goofy. Then there are the onstage stage hands who stand there in black t-shirts clumsily holding props that look like, well, guys standing there holding props. And then, there’s the rolling three-screen set of “Draw Binky”-like line drawings that rarely line up correctly and when they do, you realize they were more interesting when they didn’t. The cumulative effect is like a juvenile hallucinogenic hootenanny gone awry. (Dennis Polkow)
Victory Gardens Theater at the Biograph, 2433 Lincoln, (773)871-3000. $35-$45. Through Jan 14.