What does the Valparaiso University Theatre’s most recent play, “Rose and the Rime,” have in common with “Frozen” and the “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?” Winter just won’t stop.
Cursed by the Rime Witch, who possesses the magical coin that once made Radio Falls a vibrant lakeside tourist location, the backdrop for “Rose and the Rime” is a gloomy town that has been frozen over for nearly two decades.
The play follows a predictable path from the beginning. After hearing from her uncle Roger (Julian Raab) about the true reason their town is stuck in perpetual winter, our energetic young heroine, Rose (Carley Kolsch), sets off on her own to retrieve the coin from the Rime Witch and bring sunshine back to Radio Falls.
Her journey to find the witch is muddled in a sparse set that left the audience with no clear sense of place as Rose traveled across the lake and through the woods to the cave where the Rime Witch was hiding. The steps of her journey were only made clear later in the play, when Rose is recanting her trip to the people of Radio Falls.
Rose’s success in retrieving the coin brings happiness to the townspeople, who quickly return to riding bicycles, eating hot dogs, playing with beach balls and all the other fun summer activities they can think of once Radio Falls has thawed out. Since this is only the middle of the play, however, there’s still plenty of time for things to go horribly, horribly wrong.
It seems everyone will get their happily-ever-after, besides Charlie (Alec Chase) who humorously takes on the role of jilted lover when Rose becomes starry-eyed for his brother, Jimmy (Keegan Carrasco).
The second half of the play is where the story picks up and becomes more interesting. The joy in the Radio Falls is seen in flashes as scenes jump through time to highlight major life events. Only a few minor details, which are easy to ignore if you’re hoping for a happy ending, hint that the end of the play will leave the audience with a shock of terrible realization.
Events take a turn for the worse and the Rime Witch, once defeated, becomes reincarnated by the end of the play. This ending answers many questions, but leaves the audience with even more about what will happen to Radio Falls in the future and if history is bound to repeat itself eternally.
The cast did a lovely job portraying the emotion and humor of the play, somehow managing to keep the show lighthearted even in the face of tragedy and suffering.
A few surprise musical numbers also added to the fairytale-esque vibe of the play, at times making it seem like a bedtime story Roger might have told Rose when she was young.
Walking away from the show, the main topics of conversation included: piecing together confusing moments from the beginning of the show; discussing questions about what the ending means for the future of Radio Falls; and the perfect execution of the slow-motion love-at-first-sight scene that leaves your heart aching for Charlie when Rose breaks his just a few minutes later.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.