What do a fair maiden, a magical apple and seven vegetable-slinging cowboys have in common? They are making their debut in the original stage musical, “Snow White and the Magnificent Seven,” which is premiering at California State University, Northridge’s 55th annual Teenage Drama Workshop.
The show opens today and runs through Saturday, Aug. 4, in the Little Theatre near the southwest corner of campus located at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.
Workshop veteran instructors Ronnie Sperling and Chris Halsted are the masterminds behind this theatrical mash-up. They said the idea for this play germinated as last summer’s Teenage Drama Workshop (TADW) was winding down. The pair has worked together many times before, both at TADW and in different entertainment industry settings.
“The first thing we said was it’s going to be a western,” Sperling said.
Halsted added, “Westerns are so rarely done these days, and we both have a love for them. And if you are going to do something, you might as well do something you love.”
After pondering the idea for a few weeks, Sperling said the name “Snow White and the Magnificent Seven” “just popped into my head. I threw the idea out to Chris and he was like, that’s the show.”
They drove home the fact that this is not Disney. While much of the play draws from the original Grimm fairy tale, several iconic western themes and heroes are also woven into the script.
“We knew right away we didn’t want to have dwarfs,” Sperling said. The dwarfs have been replaced by the “magnificent seven,” heroes of the west and silver screen.
“If you’re a fan of westerns, you’ll instantly recognize what we’re spoofing,” said Sperling.
“The actors,” said Halsted, referring to the cast of about 30 teenagers, “bring things to these roles that inspire both Ronnie and me. Suddenly you hear one of these young professionals sing, and a song that was a nice high classical melody has become this strong belting alto song.”
“Snow White and the Magnificent Seven” is one of two productions CSUN’s Teenage Drama Workshop is presenting this summer. “Bye Bye Birdie,” opens Wednesday, July 25, and runs through Friday, Aug. 3, in the Campus Theatre, also located near the southwest corner of the Northridge campus.
Every morning for the past few weeks at CSUN’s Teenage Drama Workshop, more than 80 teenagers have been immersed in the day-to-day reality of a professional theatrical troupe—from designing lighting, costumes and sets to learning lines and choreography. The teenagers spend their afternoons preparing for their performances.
TAWD started out 55 years ago as an activity for teens to call attention to the cultural resources available at what was then San Fernando Valley State College. Over the years, the workshop has grown into a nationally acclaimed drama program for teens, drawing students from across the country.
The workshop is open to students entering grades 7-12. In the morning, the teenagers attend classes that focus on acting, voice and dance and can choose electives in improvisation, musical theater, playwriting or the technical aspect of theater production. The afternoons are spent in rehearsal.
“We really try to make this for the whole family, not just the kids,” said Sperling of TADW’s productions.
“Having kids ourselves,” said Halsted, “and having gone to many kid shows, as an adult you sit down and think what am I doing here? We want the adults who come, to leave thinking, ‘boy am I glad I came.’”
For more information about TADW or any of the performances, call (818) 677-5811, email email@example.com or visit the website www.csun.edu/tadw. Tickets for the shows are $14 for adults, $10 for children and seniors and $10 per person for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available through the A.S. Ticket Office at (818) 677-2488.
For a backstage peek at the Teenage Drama Workshop, visit TADW’s blog at http://tadwbackstage.blogspot.com/.