Frank Loesser's Hans Christian Andersen, an adaptation of the life of the Danish tale spinner, opened the season at San Francisco's Geary Theatre at American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) last month. The new musical weaves Loesser's songs from the 1952 Danny Kaye film into a new book by Irish playwright Sebastian Barry (Our Lady of Sligo, The Stewards of Christendom).
Avant garde choreographer/director Martha Clarke, a co-founder of Pilobolus Dance Theatre, directed the show, which emphasized movement. Well known and beloved characters from Andersen's fairy tales such as the Little Mermaid, the Steadfast Tin Soldier, the Little Match Girl, and numerous male and female fairies float and fly through the production, interacting with Andersen as he revisits his past as an old man and re-enacts scenes from his youth.
Citing the generally melancholy, dark tone of the production, critics were not particularly kind; the sets (by Robert Israel) were mentioned favorably, as were the costumes (pictured) by Jane Greenwood. Paul Gallo was the lighting designer; sound was by ACT resident sound designer Garth Hemphill. The flying systems were engineered by Flying by Foy. Frank Loesser's Hans Christian Andersen closed October 8, with talk of a move to Broadway on hold.