'The Snowflake Factory' at NWFF

It is snowing at the Northwest Film Forum. Continuing their tradition of live plays in December, NWFF invited local actor and playwright Jonah Von Spreecken to create an original work for their space.

"The Snowflake Factory" reveals how snowflakes became the best product to come out of the Factory of Cold run by the evil Mr. Slurch.

"Mr. Slurch was a character that I created last summer for a one-man show," said Von Spreecken. "In the original show, he was a really wicked schoolmaster, somewhat like the Childcatcher in the movie 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.'

"With the 'Snowflake Factory,' I transformed him into the foreman of the Factory of Cold."

Four "delightful dullards" working under Mr. Slurch in the research laboratory stumble across a way to manufacture snowflakes, said Von Spreecken. "And, eventually, how to make all the good things that we like about winter, like snowmen, snow angels and the ski slopes, comes from the Factory."

Mr. Slurch, being a character who believes in black ice and sleet, is not too pleased about the changes in his factory and his downfall forms the basis of the play.

"We really don't get snow in Seattle," said Von Spreecken, a 27-year-old New York native who moved here after college. "So I wanted to bring a snow fantasyland into the theater."

An original idea to chill down the theater to let the audience really experience winter was scrapped during the play's opening night, said Von Spreecken.

With Seattle temperatures hovering in the 30s last week, everybody had had enough chills without the NWFF turning up the air conditioning.

But the NWFF was fully supportive of Von Spreecken's effort to build a winter wonderland in their theater, he said. "It's been a big undertaking for the Film Forum. We had a pretty good budget for this show. I've always wanted to create a show from nothing. I was able to hire actors that I really wanted to work with. The cast members are very diverse, with talents from all facets of the arts."

With actors whose backgrounds ranged from improvisation to dance, Von Spreecken said that rehearsals turned into brainstorm sessions on how to turn the play into a fun winter fable.

"This was a brand-new project that we all created together. It's really been a group effort," he said. "It's cool that Northwest Film Forum is willing to reach out to other types of theater and let this project happen."

Although the "Snowflake Factory" has to close on Dec. 23, Von Spreecken would like to see it have life after the holidays. "We're inviting people from some of the children's theater festivals to come and see it. It could be done any time of the year," said Von Spreecken. "The illustrator who did our poster is just fantastic and I also think that this could be eventually turned into some type of picture book."

For Von Spreecken, his next acting gig is a school tour in "My Father's Dragon" with Book-It. After that, he's returning to the fringe theater circuit, probably with a new one-man show for Canadian fringe festivals this summer.

"The Snowflake Factory" runs Dec. 21 through Dec. 23 at the NWFF, 1515 12th Ave. Performances start at 7 p.m. Ticket prices are $7 for children, $13 for adults and $10 for NWFF members.

For more information, call 329-2629 or see www.nwfilmforum.org.


Washington Ensemble Theatre's "Wonderful Life: Holidays on Capitol Hill" pays homage to the neighborhood's special holiday memories as well as adding a little gay romance and the obligatory exploration of holiday depression.

The show runs Dec. 21 - 23 at WET's Little Theatre, 608 19th Ave. E.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are available through www.brownpapertickets.com or at the WET box office an hour before the show starts. Tickets are $10 to $15.[[In-content Ad]]