Snow White: The Mirror’s Revenge


Snow White: The Mirror’s Revenge, a new play by author Jay Hartlove is a triumph in music, theme, and story. As a sequel to the 19th century German fairy tale, Schneewittchen, this tale takes us into the future after the story we all know.

The play was inspired by the Evanescence song “Bring Me to Life” and in it, Jay strives to answer the questions the original tale leaves us with. Why did the Evil Queen want to kill Snow White instead of marrying her off to further her kingdom? How did Snow’s father die and how “happily ever after” could Snow really live after being dead for six months? Wouldn’t she bring something back with her from unlife?

This dark fantasy plays with the thought that Snow was actually dead and may have come back “undead” or at least tainted by her stint in the land of Death. The prince’s kiss brought Snow back and now she’s Queen. Things should be all roses and sunshine, but out of death, she brought back with her horrible nightmares and perhaps a curse?

The story follows Snow as she attempts to rid herself of horrible nightmares, is double-crossed by the church, and protected by a band of monks who embody the dwarves we know from the original tale. There is a delicious Dorian Gray-ish sub-plot involving a poor peasant who becomes infected with the mirror’s magic. Seeing this story through Jay’s eyes, you might even start to feel sorry for the Evil Queen. Was she really so evil, or did the mirror possess her as well?

There is enough in this play to inspire fantasy, sword and sorcery lovers as well as dark fantasy—boarding on horror—enthusiasts. While I witnessed a low-budget production, the greatness of this tale and what it could become with a larger venue and backing was clear from the beginning. Although—no matter what the budget—I have to say I would never replace the star of the show, young Kristina Jewett. Her voice and acting ability excel past her years and we are sure to see big things from her in the future.

I was lucky to have caught the show on its last weekend, but despite the live play dates having passed, we can still enjoy the music. With fourteen original songs arranged by Celtic rockers Kristoph Klover and Margaret Davis, this soundtrack is a must-own. Mixing a bit of modern rock with the sounds and feeling of Renaissance music, the words blend love songs with fun songs, serious with touching. While some songs sway to the silly like “Why Should We Worry” and “Old King Krosus” you’ll still find yourself singing along with them. The light-hearted tracks provide a nice balance against truly great numbers like “Mama, Now I Am Queen,” “Summer Ended Early,” and the dismally dark track, “Why She Must Die.” If you’re a musical buff like me, you’ll choose your favorites and replay them over and over. For those who attend the Bay Area SciFi/Fantasy Convention circuit, you’ll recognize some of the music contributors such as Sci-Fi/Fantasy author Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff and actress/producer Taunya Gren. The musical cast does such a great job of bringing this story to life through Jay’s lyrics.

With stellar music and a strong story, this play has a good chance at becoming a cult classic. We can only hope another production is in the works so that you may see it live like I did.

The CD or downloadable tracks are available here:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Christmas Carol Vision by Willo Hausman

A Christmas Carol


Director: Willo Hausman 

Melancholy Lurking 2Being a director who is smitten with ghosts and monsters I was immediately drawn to taking on the job of directing a theatrical version of Charles Dickens’ haunting tale.  When I think of A Christmas Carol I go immediately to the world that the author so clearly created in this classic story. None of the schmaltzy over-bright happy-go-lucky stuff that is so often presented in this traditional holiday fare.

The Undertaker Man_Samuel Millard

So the first rule of thumb in taking on this endeavor, was that I would be allowed free rein to stick to the original story with all it’s strange and ominous intent.  The elements that make this novel intriguing and caused its incredible success depict frightening ghosts (four of them to be precise), depressing poverty and illness, the permanence of death and a central character that is an incredibly mean-spirited man, living his life in miserly bitterness. It is only at the very end that Scrooge is redeemed and if we have gone through this truly dark journey alongside him, experiencing all the nightmares that he does, then we too will rejoice in his enlightenment, as well as our own.

Bob CratchitI first pitched the idea of putting up A Christmas Carol to Steve Coleman, The Throckmorton Theater’s fabulously gifted set designer. After realizing that we were kindred artistic spirits and connected creatively in numerous ways, the notion of putting up this play burned that much brighter in my mind.  I felt even more driven to direct this piece on that particular stage, surrounded by such appropriate ambiance. There is a very old-fashioned charm to this space (it began as a cabaret in the 1920s) and it really rang true for the vision I had in mind for this production. This inspiration was fueled even further after reading a certain version of the script, written in England (by Charles Ludlam) and true to the original tale; shadowy, mysterious, witty and finally, upbeat.

The Bag LadyAs Scrooge enters the realm of his memories, confronts the truth of his present and imagines a future without hope, we learn what truly matters; truth, kindness and heart. What better way to impart lessons then with spooky apparitions, intense imagery, haunting realizations, rich dialogue and in the end, utter spectacular joy? Dickens does it best with his original intent, just as the fairy tales of old were wont to do. With this production we planned to stick as close as possible to the real message within the authors words and use his inventive tactics to present them.

Bag Lady Pomegranate

We ended up with a terrifically twisted and authentic set (which ultimately went through 18 shifts during the show, carried out primarily by the performers themselves); a talented cast of 25 (aged 7-77), consisting of both professionals and amateurs; old-fashioned stage trickery (we used black-lights and human-made sounds to announce the arrival of Marley’s ghost); new-fangled elements (9 fantastic projections depicting Scrooge’s memories and ghostly travels, filmed by the masterful Mark Bowen) and mesmerizing Ghost Girllive sound fx (Steve Kirk, our composer, designed an incredible cinematic score, which underlined the action and added to the shadowy mood). We also mixed in a few modern day splashes via our fantastic costume designer, Morganne Newson, who brought some steam-punk hues to her slate of Victorian clothing and then topped it all off with fantastically unique looks created by Maya Lopez and Leonie Meissner, our hair and make-up designers, who worked their magic on our diverse set of characters.  Many of the actors played up to three roles each and needed to change looks fairly rapidly.  After the initial opening night jitters, the play acquired a great rhythm and the audience (including Robin Williams) laughed and appeared in awe at all the right places.  Happily, I even heard reports of some folk being rather frightened by the eerie specters and mesmerizing illuminations.

The Nephews Party

Currently in the works are a grand scale version of FRANKENSTEIN, a theatrical trilogy of GRIMM and a play based on the intriguing life of my mother, actress Diane Varsi. In active development are two feature films: CLARE, a murder mystery revolving around a clan of modern-day clan witches living in the midst of a bustling metropolis (screenplay by Maria Bernhard) and AMONG THE WONDERFUL (based on a novel by Stacy Carlson); a vintage circus tale set at Barnum’s NYC museum circa 1842 with a giantess and a taxidermist at the center of the mix.  Also on the slate are a sitcom THE VIBE (written by Jon Mosher), an Edward Gorey based film, a Buster Keaton bio-movie and a documentary film about mental illness.

Willo Hausman Bio

Director WilloAfter graduating NYU with a BFA in acting, Willo was the Founding Artistic Director of NRG, a theatre company in NYC which primarily employed a film-based crew and performed verite’ style throughout Manhattan.  NRGS’ most notable endeavor, THE HOBBYWOOD CANTEEN, was performed on a soundstage at Culver Studios in LA where it received much kudos and notoriety.  While attending he Tisch School at NYU Willo was also honored with the opportunity to perform in a few David Mamet movies where she honed her skills as an actor.  Willo enriched her film knowledge by continuing training on many high-powered film sets, working in a multitude of capacities, including NOBODY’S FOOL (Stand-in/Perdiem-Envelope-Stuffer and Art Department Production Assistant), FAMILY THING (Set PA and Casting Assistant), PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT (Extras Casting Director), TWILIGHT (No, not That Twilight, a different film with Paul Newman and Susan Sarandon) as a Producer’s Assistant and MAN ON THE MOON (Camera Assistant).  Willo also spent many years working by her father’s side at his NY-based production company, CINEHAUS.

FAIRIE was Willo’s filmic directorial debut. A fantastical tale about 9 fairy creatures celebrating the new millennium at the Hollywood sign. Willo also shot and directed LAST DAY AT CINETEL, a short work in the reality genre, humorously revealing the inherent frustrations of being an artist trapped in a menial job. Recently, Willo directed a well-received and elaborate theatrical production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, combining cinema, an original score, Victorian Steampunk costumes and an exquisite gothic-hued set. She has also helmed an innovative stage version of DRACULA.

Willo is the founder of GRYPHON PICTURES, a LA and SF-based film company.