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'The Glowy Snowy Day’ Offers Pandemic-Safe Drive-Through Puppetry

The Glowy Snowy Day opens on December 31, 2020.
Provided by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
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“The Glowy Snowy Day” opens on the campus of Webster University on Dec. 31.

Since it was first published in 1962, “The Snowy Day” has been one of the most beloved books in children’s literature. Now it’s become a strikingly original play, featuring giant, illuminated puppets in a drive-thru outdoor setting that’s perfect for a global pandemic.

The Glowy Snowy Day” is a joint production of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Kansas City-based StoneLion Puppet Theatre. Featuring 22 performers in 14 separate scenes, it will run for three nights only on the campus of Webster University. Families can play the accompanying soundtrack in their cars as they drive through slowly and witness the spectacle outside the windows.

122120_provided_adenavarner.jpg Adena Varner of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Provided / Allen Gregory Stewart
Adena Varner, director of learning and community engagement for the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Adena Varner, the Rep’s director of learning and community engagement, said the idea for the show came from her own experiences as a mother of three — and encouragement from her boss.

“Our artistic director, Hana Sharif, really encouraged the artistic team to think big, and to think outside the box, and to think of something that would be magical for our children, who have navigated a really challenging year,” Varner explained on St. Louis on the Air. “And to do something where families can experience something together.”

And the resulting show goes beyond StoneLion’s puppet pageantry. “We’re really excited to think about not just a beautiful show, but a beautiful story,” she said.

With the permission of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, named for the story’s author, the theater worked to expand the minimalist text a bit, adding dialogue and description. Varner’s own children helped with some of the voicing.

“As you drive through, each scene has a storytelling component,” she said. “They’ll either see a shadowbox puppet, or they’ll see one of the scenic elements or a giant puppet” — some as tall as 10 feet. “Each scene is very different.”

And yes, they include a glow-in-the-dark snowball fight inspired by the one the story’s protagonist witnesses the “big boys” having. “We’re really excited about the snowball fight,” Varner said.

The performances are free to attend. Each drive-through tour should last about 10 minutes, Varner said.

Related Event

What: “The Glowy Snowy Day

When: Thursday, Dec. 31, through Saturday, Jan. 2

Where: Webster University (470 E. Lockwood, Webster Groves, MO 63119)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Sarah Fenske joined St. Louis Public Radio as host of St. Louis on the Air in July 2019. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

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