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With ‘White Snake,’ Goodman finishes season strong

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The Goodman Theatre has a knack for striking a balance between brilliant and unassuming in each and every one of

From left, Tanya Thai McBride and Amy Kim Waschke in "The White Snake" at Goodman Theatre. Photo courtesy of T. CHARLES ERICKSON/Goodman Theatre

From left, Tanya Thai McBride and Amy Kim Waschke in “The White Snake” at Goodman Theatre. Photo courtesy of T. CHARLES ERICKSON/Goodman Theatre

their shows. Within them, the talent is immense, the set design is beautiful and the unadulterated heart that lies beneath every show is astounding. This spring’s show, “The White Snake,” directed by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman, strikes a balance between all of the theater’s most wonderful qualities. The show is visually magnificent, thematically touching and all-around lasting.

The production brings a Chinese fable to life, in which the White Snake, who lives atop a mountain, becomes tired of her pious ways and decides to venture into the realm of humanity. She takes on the form of a woman with her dear friend, the Green Snake, and together the women discover what lies in the mortal world. When the White Snake falls in love with a man, though, what started as curious exploration turns into something far bigger and more meaningful than they could have ever imagined. Though the tale itself is ancient, Zimmerman brings it to life for modern audiences. Its spectacle is dazzling and its message will remain with you long after the curtain has closed.

Though “The White Snake” lacks nothing in substance, one of its most impressive elements is its visual finesse. Each scene presents a seamless culmination of intricate and streamlined details. Silk, lanterns, colorful props and beautiful projections work in harmony with one another on the wooden stage to create a world that is vivid and complex.
Everything is deliberate and nothing is extraneous when it comes to the deeply visual nature of this show.

While the cast is enormously talented all around, there is something especially impressive about actress Tanya Thai McBride, who takes on the role of the Green Snake. Her energy is large and endearing; though she is loud and fast there is also something tender about the character that she has molded. Much of the show is methodical and gentle but McBride continuously shakes it up and reawakens the spontaneity that bubbles beneath its surface.

“The White Snake” is a treat of a show that should not be missed this season. It simultaneously challenges and rewards its audiences. At its heart is a sense of compassion; it reminds us that love and kindness are still awake in the world.

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With ‘White Snake,’ Goodman finishes season strong