Rose and the Rime Soars at the Arsht Center
The House Theatre of Chicago has little interest in producing traditional plays. The previous productions it has taken to the Adrienne Arsht Center — such as The Sparrow, about a girl who develops special powers after surviving a tragic bus accident, and the sold-out engagements of Death and Harry Houdini, a flavorful biography of the daredevil magician — have integrated music, choreography, literal smoke and mirrors, and, in the case of Houdini, live magic and audience interaction.
The House's plays have plenty of spunk and innovation. And in Rose and the Rime, which opens this weekend at the Arsht Center's Carnival Studio Theater, those moving parts will reach the sky: In the middle of the piece, Paige Collins, who portrays the heroine, Rose, will soar above the audience.
"There's a ton of movement in this play," Collins says. "It's a real workout. It's 90 minutes of running around and jumping and getting lifted. And in the middle, there's a bit of flying, so there's dealing with rigs and everybody being in their place and making sure it's going to go smoothly.
"I was a bit afraid [of flying], but once you've worked with people for a little while, you can trust that everyone has your back and that the equipment is really safe, and it just becomes really fun. The first couple of times were a little nerve-wracking."
Her character has good reason to fly. When it comes to single-handedly saving your entire community, you can't let gravity bring you down. Rose and the Rime is set in the fictional town of Radio Falls, Michigan, which has been trapped in a perpetual winter for a generation, thanks to a curse by the Rime Witch, an evil entity lurking in the remote mountains. Only Rose can lift the curse, thanks to her discovery of the witch's magic coin -- but she finds that the coin has two sides.
With its coming-of-age tween protagonist, Rose and the Rime has been described as a play families can enjoy. But expect it to straddle the same border between comedy and tragedy that the House's previous works have balanced so successfully. Though you're watching a parable about suffering and resentment and an oppressive winter that never ends, you're seeing it play out with love songs, live sax music, dances with snow shovels, and flying characters.