REGULAR partners York Theatre Royal and Tutti Frutti, the Leeds children’s theatre company, are off on their travels again, this time for the icy blast of Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen.

Scripted by Mike Kenny, the York doyen of children’s adaptations, the co-production can be seen in the Theatre Royal Studio until October 13, then tours until December, before a week at the Bush Theatre in London and a Christmas season at The Point, Eastleigh. Such is the popularity of Tutti Frutti’s work under the direction of Wendy Harris, who is so consistently good at choosing plays, playwrights and casts.

The story tells of tower-block children Kai and Gerda, friends for as long as they can remember. One day, in a whirl of magic and deception, Kai is pulled under the spell of the powerful Snow Queen, who so loves ice and coldness. Gerda boldly sets out on a quest to save her friend and return life to normal, and as she faces the dangers of the unknown, her winter journey will teach her lessons in loyalty, loss and love.

“Snow Queen is the perfect story to tell for an autumn and winter tour. The story goes through the seasons, so we enjoy summer roses and the icy Snow Queen’s palace,” says Wendy.

“With two central protagonists as children, both girls and boys get something from the story because although it’s called Snow Queen, it’s really about Kai and Gerda and their friendship. It’s lovely for the girl to be the one who rescues the boy – for a change.”

Composer Ivan Stott, who worked with Tutti Frutti on Underneath A Magic Moon, returns to the company to create music and songs for Snow Queen, while the cast features three Tutti Frutti debutants: Joanne Sandi as the Snow Queen, Robber Girl and Elsie, Hannah Victoria as Gerda and Mitchel Wolfe as Kai, Robber Woman and Reindeer.

York Press:

"It’s lovely for the girl to be the one who rescues the boy – for a change," 

“There are no other shows like these children’s shows, where you have to play several characters,” says Wendy. “People are quite judgemental about children’s theatre, but it’s very demanding for performers, with lots of singing and loads of energy needed.”

Joanne Sandi has appeared in such song-and-dance shows as the West End musical Soul Sister and plenty of pantomimes, from Aladdin at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, to the lead role in Rapunzel at Stratford East’s Theatre Royal. “But this show is very different from that, with everything being about using your imagination in Snow Queen,” she says.

“This show is really minimalist with two sledges and nothing else on stage, but a beautiful backdrop, and so the characters bring their world in with them,” says Wendy.

“I think it’s the first time we’ve done a Tutti Frutti show with a baddie, and we really have an iconic baddie in the Snow Queen; that’s a big burden to carry as an actor, and she’s not going to be in a sparkly dress with a crown, so it’s different from the norm in that sense.

“It’s a show with strong women and a female heroine who saves the boy, and that also makes it appealing to do.”

Joanne is enjoying working with a Mike Kenny script for the first time. “He’s very expressive, very clear and he gives you a lot to play with in terms of description. It’s so full of depth, and you can just grow layers in your performance from there,” she says. “He’s great at giving you enough to play with, but also guiding you.”

“Joanne still had loads of choices to make in rehearsal, even though the path through the play is clear, but what is so clever about Mike’s work is the subtext, the underlying, deeper themes of grief and loss and relationships,” says Wendy.

Tutti Frutti and York Theatre Royal present Snow Queen, York Theatre Royal Studio, until October 13, then on tour. York box office: 01904 623568 or at