OFFBEAT: Easy to get caught in the coils of Goodman's 'White Snake'

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-05-17T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Easy to get caught in the coils of Goodman's 'White Snake'By Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Tony Award-winning director and playwright Mary Zimmerman never disappoints when transporting audiences to a stage story wrapped in fantasy and escape.

Her new and enchanting adaptation of a more than 1,000 year-old Chinese fable about the worldly travels and troubles of a pair of serpents at Goodman Theatre called "White Snake" is an incredible and entertaining adventure with lessons to be learned at every turn.

Amy Kim Waschke gives a moving and magical performance in the title role for this Chicago premiere, playing a slithering white snake spirit that transforms into a girl to experience the people and civilizations that await beyond her mystical mountain. Tanya Thai McBride bursts with personality beyond the puppet she also controls at times, while appearing as the silly and fearless Green Snake, who is the constant companion of White Snake, both in scale and skin-human form.

Nicely balancing humor and horror is Jon Norman Schneider as Xu Xian, the young man who is the romantic desire of White Snake's human alter-ego.

Hot on the trail (and tales!) of both of these disguised female serpents who have taken female human form is the remarkable talent of Matt DeCaro, playing Fa Hai, the monk who plots to keep White Snake and Xu Xian apart by any means necessary.

Zimmerman's ensemble cast offers an array of ability as they morph into multiple roles, including Richard Howard as Canopus, Emily Sophia Knapp as Crane, Vin Kridakorn as Boatman, Eliza Shin as Acolyte, Lisa Tejero as Sister and Cristofer Jean as Brother-in-Law.

A three-piece musical ensemble includes Tessa Brinckman (flutes), Ronnie Malley (strings/percussion) and Michal Palzewicz (cello).

Audiences are immersed in a dream-like world throughout this 100-minute no intermission fantasy trip courtesy of the creative team including Daniel Ostling's billowing fabric scenic design, Mara Blumenfeld's beautiful costume design, T.J. Gerckens amazing lighting design and Andre Pluess' original music and sound design paired with Shawn Sagady's projection design.

After just the first 20 minutes, this seamless stage telling makes it impossible to see where the puppetry ends and the actors and actresses emerge to lead the way into an inviting, unknown territory of twisted reality.

"The White Snake" is  appropriate for adults and families with children age 6 and older and runs until June 8 in the Albert Theatre with tickets ranging from $25-$86 at (312) 443-3800 or

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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