Interview with Hannah Noone, director of The Snow Queen!

The theatre we experience in childhood can have a transformative effect on our lives.

And for director Hannah Noone, it was a youthful encounter with the Snow Queen which helped inspire her future career.

“I remember going to see The Snow Queen at Theatr Colwyn, which was my local theatre, as part of my birthday when I was about 11, and dressing up as her,” she smiles. “My mum made me a cape out of a shower curtain and painted my nails with Tippex.

“I thought the Snow Queen was amazing. I didn’t really see her as a villain. I knew she was terrible with her choices, but she was so theatrical, and she owned the space.”

So more than 20 years on, when Hannah heard Storyhouse was planning to stage the captivating tale, it brought back the same feelings she’d had as an 11-year-old and she knew she needed to be involved to help create that same sense of wonder and magic for a new generation of young theatregoers.

Hans Christian Andersen’s bewitching fairytale, told here in an adaptation by Charles Way, charts an epic battle between good and evil, celebrating family and friendship along the way.

The Snow Queen rules her magical kingdom with a grip as cold as steel. So when young Cei falls under her spell it’s down to his childhood friend Gerda to save him and defeat the Snow Queen in the process.

Hannah and the creative team plan to bring the tale thrillingly to life on the Storyhouse stage by immersing its audience in an enchanting visual and aural world, taking them on a memorable journey through lands – and seasons – that promise to excite all the senses.

“We want to bring you properly into the heart of the story,” she reveals. “Jake (Jacob Hughes) the designer and I have been trying to stop being so adult and think what does it feel like to be a kid and to be genuinely surprised, and find joy and delight at the spectacle? And what are the ways we can achieve that?”

Walking into the auditorium will be like stepping into another land.

And if the sights that greet your eyes are enchanting and unexpected, so will be the sounds that fill your ears thanks to the live electric band which will be on stage throughout the show.

Hannah explains: “We’ll have our band arriving and singing with us. It will feel really lovely and warm and familiar – and then suddenly they’re going to take us to these worlds that we’re really not expecting.”

Composer Sam Barnes and musical director Mared Williams have backgrounds which embrace experience as recording artists but also in live theatre.

Together with Hannah they have developed a style which combines a musical storytelling tradition handed down through the generations with a playlist which she describes as “super eclectic, very exciting, and fun.”

While the Snow Queen has built herself a wintery kingdom, the story itself travels across many landscapes and through all four seasons.

Hannah says: “The great thing about the seasons is that we can feel them and taste them and hear them.

“All the senses will be delighted by landing with Gerda and travelling with her into these new…they’re not just seasons, she’s not just walking into a spring field, we’re falling into a spring world and meeting these quite eccentric but loveable characters.”

At its heart is the battle of wills between two feisty female figures; the powerful Snow Queen – here imagined as a dazzling rock star figure in the mould of Madonna or Lady Gaga, and the brave young Gerda.

“Gerda becomes this superhero,” Hannah says. “At the beginning she’s having panic attacks and dealing with the loss of her mother, and by the end she’s literally saving the world and defeating evil.

“And then at the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got someone who is still a woman but who has got it totally wrong.

“It’s a very human story, and it’s surprising and different, because we still don’t have enough of these stories of young women being able to do all these things.”

Friendship – here between Gerda and Cei – is also at the heart of the story, and in Hannah’s words “is explored in a really epic way.”

And what could be more apt at Christmas than celebrating the power of family and friendship?

Family is certainly at the centre of festivities in the Noone household.

“It’s glorious!” Hannah says of her own Christmas experience. “Pretty chaotic, but in the best way possible.

“I love being able to go home. I grew up in a very musical household and learned to play piano by ear. A big part of that is because I really loved Disney films and wanted to learn how to play all the songs and sing all the characters.

“I’m one of three girls, and because we don’t see each other all the time now, Christmas is exciting. My sisters will demand I play something on the piano, and we’ll have a drink and a sing.”

Christmas will, she hopes, be just as glorious at Storyhouse this season.

“I love that everyone will have their own experience of it,” she says of The Snow Queen. “But the hope is that there’s genuine joy and excitement, and a sense of connection of having been there in the story.

“That’s what you’re looking for at Christmas – and that’s what this will offer.

“And some excellent music. You’ll be wanting to go home and put on your favourite tracks and dance around the kitchen!”


Words by Catherine Jones


To find out more and book tickets, click here.