Follow Up: My Public Apology to Hans Christian Andersen

Dear Hans,

You seem like you were a fairly decent guy. You had a troubled time in school and that likely contributed to the often-bleak endings to your fairy tales (anyone who thinks Disney created the story of The Little Mermaid is certainly in for a depressing shock when they read yours).

Your history of repeatedly unrequited love, both hetero- and homosexual in nature, is also very sad.

So, you'd think people would leave well enough alone and let your work speak for itself.

That is certainly not the case, and for my part, I'm sorry.

For the last few months I've been involved in an updated version of The Snow Queen, adapted for stage by a Jonathan Graham. I don't know anything about him other than the fact that he clearly needs a better editor and that his word choices for a children's play are occasionally quite bizarre. ("fetishized" ??!?)

Numerous liberties have been taken with your story. I understand shortening the narrative and updating the time period. But some of the other changes are just a bit weird. Why change the mirror from troll-made to elf-made? Why eliminate the Grandmother from the scene and reduce her to a few mentions by Gerda? Also eliminated -- the sorceress, the Ravens, the princess and her prince. The robber hag and her daughter are turned into a robbery scene with an elf in disguise (an elf who doesn't even exist in your story). Similarly, Bae the reindeer is the troll in a set of antlers clattering two coconut halves together (OK, strictly speaking, the blatant-Python-homage coconut halves were added by me and not Mr. Graham). And, all spiritual and religious references have been removed.

In addition, I have the troll (in his King Nicholas disguise) doing his best Shatner impression. I'm sorry, but it's true.

The show is a delight, Mr. Andersen (I cannot type that without hearing Hugo Weaving), but I'm sorry. Other than the names of a few characters and the presence of a mirror, there's little left from your original story. Still, if you were alive and anywhere near South Jersey, I hope you'd come see it.


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