The Snowman and The Red Thread Dazzles the Audience

Portland’s own beloved Michael Allen Harrison, pianist/musical artist extraordinaire, and Robert Guitron, the spectacular Artistic Director of Polaris Dance Theatre, collaborated once again to bring the world premiere of the Snowman and the Red Thread to Portland, Oregon. The story is narrated by Grandpa telling the story of a little girl, Misha, who learns from her Grandmother and the “Snowman” not to judge people from the outside (their appearance), but to connect heart to heart and learn to love, care, and support others. Simply put, the play’s premise is: “Do not judge a book by its cover.” The Snowman explains – through music, dance, laughter, smiles, and enchanting costumes on dancers and scenes from foreign, unknown places – NOT to recoil from people different from yourself, but to look inside the heart and discover what lies beneath the exterior of our human form and to dismiss preconceived notions about others we encounter. Harrison and Guitron, once again, pulled out all the stops to bring Portland a thought-provoking story for children and adults of all ages to see and listen to with delight, helping us break down the mental barriers we humans tend to erect when meeting new people who are different from us.

Speaking of different, the story unravels literally, as Misha follows the red thread to new and enchanting lands– “Or, was it a dream?” Misha quizzically posed the question to the audience. We, as a captivated group, traveled together with Misha to the land of the Snow People, which included the Snowman, Snowflakes, and Snowballs leaping for joy welcoming little Misha to their enchanted world. The land of darkness, literally a blacked-out stage, took the audience by surprise as the Polaris dancers’ bodies were encrusted by flashing tiny lights that twinkled and tracked their every movement. It was all I could do to stay in my seat and not join them. The narrator, with a Santa Clause voice and persona, continued to narrate the story to other lands: the Land of Colors, the land without gravity –the Land of Flight, and the Land of Opposites. Misha travels through time and space and through whatever that veil of fabric was to learn that her inflated fears of a tall girl (“She’s a whole three inches taller than me!”) named Billy were quite unfounded and that Billy was her new time-travel friend. The last land they traveled to was the reality of HOME – home with Grandma and Misha’s new best friend, Billy.

At the conclusion of the show, the audience clapped and stood with delight, then collectively drew a big breath and walked out of the Lincoln Hall theatre, and all attendees traveled home to ponder, “Who have I prejudged; who have I pushed away from me because I was afraid or unwilling to look inside his or her heart?”
Two young ladies shone through this dreamlike drama. Ashley Bleoaja, as “Misha,” wowed the audience at the young age of 11 years with her piano, singing, and acting skills. She is a newcomer to the live stage performance world but rose to the occasion after a breakneck schedule of learning music, dance, and her performance lines within a two-and-a-half-week period.
Cayla Bleoaja, aka Billy the Bully, also shone while working alongside with her real-life sister, Ashley. Cayla not only wrote, played the piano, and sang the finale song, but she starred with her sister in this compelling story about how “what you see from the outside is often not what is inside a person’s heart.” The story these two girls portrayed showed their respective hearts transformed, from fear of an unknown or different person, fear of rejection by others, fear of new things and environments, to joyously and lovingly accepting those who are bigger, smaller, smarter, more talented, or perhaps just different.

Personally, I attended this premier twice and thoroughly enjoyed the performance that was put on through the sacrifices of so many talented people. I give this Premiere Show a two-thumbs-up and recommend that EVERYONE come to see the Snowman and the Red Thread.

Cindy Johnson

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great review! I did not see the show but it sounds like I have to next year! Whoever wrote this did a wonderful job describing the production. I am enjoying myself keeping up with you girls. Please check out my blog as well.


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