SNOWBALL (Brian Sanders’ JUNK): A Wondrous Urban Fairytale for Kids of All Ages

Promotional image for SNOWBALL by Brian Sanders’ JUNK (Photo credit: Niki Schifferdecker)

Photo credit: Niki Schifferdecker

The latest installment of SNOWBALL, the annual wintertime extravaganza by Brian Sanders’ JUNK, is a must-see world-premiere holiday delight for the whole family. Combining a post-modern urban narrative with a charming “Winter Wonderland Furrytail,” the engaging two-act show (conceived and created by Brian Sanders, written and directed by Lee Ann Etzold) will keep you smiling, gasping, oohing and aahing at its heartwarming moral, Sanders’ stunning choreography, and his acclaimed dance troupe’s extraordinary finesse.

Set outside a row of dreary tenements on the fictional Grey Lane (effectively designed by Pedro da Silva), SNOWBALL weaves the tale of an inner-city neighborhood plagued by crime, poverty, juvenile delinquency, a greedy landlady (guest artist Christine Morano), her smarmy accountant (the hilarious and nearly unrecognizable John Luna), and her callous thugs. But a cathartic snowfall and a giant magical snowflake bring a change of attitude to the beleaguered residents–now transformed into the whimsical Gang of Fur’s dancing bunnies–who battle the evil landlady turned Ice Queen and embrace the love and hope we all deserve (in inventive costumes by Jill Keys).

Brian Sanders' JUNK in a pre-production photo of a scene from SNOWBALL (Photo credit: Ted Lieverman)

Photo credit: Ted Lieverman

Employing Sanders’ signature incorporation of found objects into the choreography, the dancers–representing a microcosm of the city’s ethnicities, classes, and ages (ranging from 14 to 59!)–perform imaginative acrobatic dance moves with a trashcan, dumpster, shopping cart, and traffic cone, while street dancing, stilt-walking, spinning, soaring, and scaling the heights of the balconies and fire escapes to a soundtrack of tail-shaking pop hits from the ‘80s. JUNK superstars Tommy Schimmel (who stars as Lil’ Tim Flake), Connor Senning, Billy Robinson, Teddy Fatscher, and Laura Jenkins thrill the audience with their ever-impressive athleticism, control, and humor, and Ann-Marie Gover, JUNK’s newest member, is equally strong and sympathetic as Gem (Tim’s heroic love interest), who takes a stand against the forces of evil and triumphs.

Audience members are invited to join in the fun by dancing along to the Flake-Out, participating in a fuzzy snowball fight, booing and hissing the Ice Queen, and cheering the romance of Gem and Tim—so be sure to get into the spirit and don’t disappoint those lovable bunnies! [Harold Prince Theatre at the Annenberg Center] December 4-15, 2013, annenbergcenter.org or briansandersjunk.com.

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.