Blizzard the Wizard
nytheatre.com review by Rohana Elias-Reyes
December 21, 2008
Urban Stages' Blizzard the Wizard promises that winter "has never been so warm," and certainly when my family and I blew into the theater from the sub-freezing weather outside, my children were welcomed at the door with a hearty "we're so glad you're here," they were allowed to pet the small fuzzy dog dozing in the lobby, and within minutes of taking their seats, were being enthusiastically greeted by Blizzard the Wizard himself.
Blizzard the Wizard is a one-man show (with a few incidental characters and offstage lines thrown in by the stage manager), but that one man, Dan Kitrosser, has the energy of a whole barrel of monkeys. As Blizzard, his silliness immediately lets kids (and their parents) know here is someone who really loves playing make-believe. Within the first five minutes we all joined him as dancing snow-people; and by the end of the show we had driven across the country as 18-wheeler trucks, shouted out animal names and sounds, and batted balloons around the theater. I was a little worried beforehand that my three-year-old (who does not possess an "inside voice") would be disruptive. However, his shouts of "dinosaur" and "cows are bigger" were not only adroitly handled by Kitrosser, as were the comments of the many other small fry in the audience, they were encouraged.
In addition to playing Blizzard, Kitrosser plays the characters Blizzard meets on his journey south to find why the snow is all gone: a bird who can't find a tree to land on; an 18-wheeler truck that discovers alternate fuel sources; and Sylvia Dump, a witch who loves trash. How they tie into Blizzard's quest and the question of global warming is tenuous, but the characterizations are a lot of fun; as are the songs each sings.
There are many jokes that sail right over the heads of the children; but the quick pace means we are back to shouting and dancing before the kids have time to wonder why mommy and daddy were laughing. At times the speed of the show accelerates to a head-long rush. One area that could stand some slowing down is the delivery of the information about global warming and alternate energy sources. Along with the jokes about yellow snow, Alaska's ability to produce unqualified politicians, and what profession rhymes with the name Broctologist, this information, delivered at a break-neck speed, flew right over the heads of the children. They didn't know what they were missing and enjoyed the simple plot of Blizzard looking for his beloved missing snow, but as a parent, I felt it was a missed opportunity.
Blizzard the Wizard is more of an experience than a play. The plot is loose and the design of the show is non-existent, but the whole-hearted welcoming of the children is sincere and my kids were engaged the entire time. If you are the kind of parent that likes to pop in a DVD of Little Einsteins or Sesame Street and then go in the other room so you don't have to watch it yourself, you probably wouldn't enjoy Blizzard the Wizard (even though your children probably would). Kitrosser demands active involvement by adults and children alike. However, if you really like to see your kids giggling and engaged, this show is a great choice for young children.