The White Snake


Written and Directed by Mary Zimmermangoodman theatre

Cased on the Classic Chinese Fable

At the Goodman Theatre, Chicago

Enchanting and charming telling of the famed classic Chinese fable is vividly presented

Celebrating her 20 year collaboration at the Goodman Theatre, Mary Zimmerman brings her polished, slick and eye-popping production of the White Snake to Chicago.  Zimermna, a genius at making fables and myths come to life on stage has re imagined the myth of the white snake into an endearing romantic tale.  Utilizing her creative staging skills with the superb set design by Daniel Ostling, the lighting by T. J. Gerckens with projections by Shawn Sagady and the colorful costumes by Mara Blumenfeld, Zimmerman instantly gets us to empathize with both the white snake (AmyKim Waschke) and her manic side-kick, Green Snake (Tanya Thai McBride).


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We learn that the two snakes agree to go down the mountain and spend a day in the world of humans. They both morph into human form using their magical powers. While with humans, White Snake,  now a beautiful woman, notices a handsome man who ends up sharing his umbrella with during a heavy rainfall. White Snake falls instantly in love with the man, Xu Xian (Jon Norman Schneider), a humble poor man. After a short courtship, White Snake and Xu Xian marry move into a red house and open a pharmacy – life is good for both as love abounds.

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A snake in human form can acquire love and a common man can marry a beautiful woman, or can them?

A vengeful monk, Fa Hai (Matt DeCaro) believes that it is immoral for a snake spirit to engage with a human plots to brake up the union between white Snake and Xu Xian. We experience the question: Can love prevail here?

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Told with inquire movement, interspersing lighting and Oriental motifs with terrific puppets and elaborate choreography with Asian infused original music (by Andre Pluess) featuring a chamber orchestra with a cello, strings/percussion and flute, The White Snake creates the charming and quaint atmosphere of ancient China ripe for mythical storytelling. The show is a 100 minute visual feast that grabs us and sends us into the world of ancient Asian myth. Our journey has surprises in its story as well as visual surprises that constantly get us to a “wow” moment.

The fine musical underscoring lifts the tone as the battle for love, life and acceptance ensues.  We are captivate with the story as we cheer for Xu Xian and White Snake’s love to work. We also learn to love and appreciate the loyalty and sincerity of Green Snake.

The cast was outstanding, especially Matt DeCaro as the nasty head monk  and Tanya Thai McBride as the Green Snake.

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The complete production is a master work of art, both theatrically and as storytelling.  No one makes theoretical spectaculars better than Mary Zimmerman. The White Snake is another fabulous Zimmerman production. Don’t miss it! Take your kids, they’ll love it and its message of self acceptance.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed:  May 18, 2014

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout The White Snake page at

At the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago, Il, call 312-443-3800,, tickets $25 – $86,  Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, Thursdays at 2 & 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 * 8 pm, sundays at 2 & 7:30 pm, running time is 100 minutes, through June 22, 2014

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