The Little Match Girl

St. Luke’s Theatre, Manhattan

The good, the bad and the ugly about this show in just 3 bullet points!

By Andrew Andrews

Aisling Fiona Fagan stars as The Little Match Girl in the Yaya Kids Theater & Ting Wang production at St. Luke’s Theatre in Hells Kitchen. Original photo by Michael Blase.

Hans Christian Andersen’s short story The Little Match Girl has been brought to life in the form of a musical developed primarily by China’s Oxygen Media.

Presented by Yaya Kids Theater and Ting Wang at St. Luke’s Theatre off-Broadway, the book takes many liberties with the original tale.

In this stage version, the unnamed street urchin wanders about her Victorian era town on new year’s eve, attempting unsuccessfully to sell matches to passers-by.

After losing her slippers to a ragamuffin and succumbing to the cold, the girl lights a match to stay warm, afraid to return home to her sick mother and alcoholic father, the latter of whom will beat her for not bringing home money to pay for more booze.

The glow of the fire brings visions of Saint Nicholas, who leads the little match girl through a series of hallucinations, ultimately reuniting her with her dead grandmother.

Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly about this production:

Christopher Swan, Aisling Fiona Fagan, Dayna Grayber, Max P. Fowler, Elizabeth Flanagan (obstructed) and Madi Beumee perform a whimsical dance as the highlight of the show.
  1. The Good: The nine-member cast is handsomely costumed, muti-talented and delightfully enthusiastic. The period-appropriate wardrobe is gorgeous, the singing is strong, and the dancing numbers in particular are the highlight of this performance.

  2. The Bad: Although the structure of both the lyrics and music are of professional caliber, the lines themselves are oversimplified and unmemorable. The live orchestra—which consists of two keyboards and a cast member playing violin—is technically strong but too small to provide depth to the music. More layers, including a rhythm section, would go a long way here. Similarly, all but two of the actors performed multiple roles, which I nearly always find confusing and annoying.

  3. The Ugly: Andersen’s original story lacks any semblance of a plot, and despite all of its changes, this adaptation does little to enhance the drama. Aside from a few brief moments where I enjoyed the song and dance, I could hardly wait for this show to be over.

Even though my wish came true in less than an hour, the pitfalls of this production are too big for the talent to overcome. The good news is that the run will soon be over, and the cast will be free to move on to bigger and better things.

Andrew Andrews attended The Little Match Girl at St. Luke’s Theatre in Manhattan on Thursday, February 13, 2020 @ 7:00pm to write this review.