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Snow Child is no longer flying straight from Arena Stage to the North Pole.
Staff members at Alaska’s Perseverance Theatre confirmed Friday that upcoming tour of the musical has been canceled. Performances in Anchorage was scheduled to begin May 25, followed by four performances at the theater’s home base in Juneau on June 9 and 10.
Arena Stage declined to comment on the sudden cancellation of Snow Child, which stars Tony nominee Christiane Noll in a bluegrass adaptation of Eowyn Ivey’s novel. Reviews of show, directed by Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith, have not been positive. The D.C. production is scheduled to close Sunday night, so the turnaround time between productions would have been tight.
Art Rotch, artistic director of Perseverance, confirmed the news but said he could not yet discuss reasons for canceling the tour. A statement released on the theater’s website Friday indicates that the show Smith built at Arena Stage cannot be successfully transported and remounted in Alaska.
“Perseverance Theatre stands by its reputation to create professional, high-quality theater productions,” the note says. “Unfortunately, at this time, we are unable to meet the logistical needs this beautiful production deserves in order to stay true to our mission and the vision of the show.”
Smith founded Perseverance in 1979 and ran the successful, adventurous theater in Alaska’s capital until coming to Washington in 1998. Despite Smith’s involvement, Arena Stage spokesperson Lauren Alexander said Friday that there would be no further information coming from Arena. “This is Perseverance’s production and their story to tell.”
UPDATE, May 21, 4 p.m.
After a story about the abrupt cancellation of the Snow Child tour appeared in the Anchorage Daily News Friday, both theaters provided City Paper with some additional reasoning.
“We have been working for months to ensure this production could easily transfer to Alaska,” Arena Stage executive director Edgar Dobie said in a statement. “Unfortunately due to financial and human resource issues on Perseverance’s end, they made the decision to cancel the production.”
“Reductions in Perseverance Theatre staff made it difficult to bring the beautiful production created by Arena Stage to Alaska,” Rotch wrote in an email. “Despite generous funding, fiscal constraints played a role too.”
Arena Stage received a $45,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to support Snow Child, one of the largest grants announced in the latest round of federal theater funding. The grant application did not include the Alaska tour, Alexander said, and the money does not need to be repaid.
Snow Child also received an approximately $40,000 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, as well as funding from local philanthropist Andrew R. Ammerman.