Allan Kozinn's review from The New York Times of a 1990 performance of the operetta The Journey of Snow White, which was composed by Al Carmines, formerly of The Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, NYC. (My friend the late Wayne Eley of Atlanta, Georgia produced a video of the original production of the operetta.)
The Judson Memorial Church has for decades been a home for offbeat art exhibitions and music, theater and dance productions that reflect the spirit of its Greenwich Village neighborhood. This year, the church is celebrating its centennial with a varied schedule of events, including revivals of three shows by one of its former ministers, Al Carmines.
Mr. Carmines, who has moved uptown to the Rauschenbusch Memorial Church, is a prolific composer with eclectic tastes. His 1971 quasi-operatic musical comedy, ''The Journey of Snow White,'' was presented at the Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South) through last night.
In this amusing fantasy, Mr. Carmines freely embellishes the fairy tale. In his version, Queen I - Snow White's mother - predicts her death in a melancholy Purcellian recitative. But before leaping into the grave, she persuades the King to marry Queen II. While not overtly evil, as wicked stepmothers go, Queen II is unusually attached to her mirror (a character here), and the Queen turns on Snow White only when the mirror voices a preference for the younger woman.
When Queen II discovers that Snow White is living in the woods with the seven dwarfs (actually, there were six in the performance on Sunday evening, the seventh singer having sustained an injury), she commissions three witches to kill her. Instead of a single, charming prince who can wake Snow White with a kiss, Mr. Carmines sends three: an opera singer, a cowboy balladeer and a rock star who acts like a young Elvis Presley.
None of them rouse her, and the rock-and-roll prince's aria is lewd enough to get him ejected by the dwarfs. In the end, the full court and the ghost of Queen I turn up, and Snow White is rescued by the mirror, who has decided that he would prefer to be human.
The mood of the work is suggested in some of the aria titles: the two oddest are ''Love Is Our Epistemology,'' sung by the dwarfs, and ''The Impression on Our Retina Has Gone,'' sung by the woodland creatures. But there are serious notions beneath the layers of overt silliness. Mr. Carmines takes his tongue out of his cheek long enough to show the power of love as a transforming force, and his finale is a gorgeous choral paean to free will.
The work's musical side has its charms as well, one being Mr. Carmines's organized approach to eclecticism, in which parodied styles are intrinsic to characterization. Snow White's agile, sugary music would be at home in a Lehar operetta. Queen I hops between moody Baroque settings and a bright cabaret style. Queen II and the mirror are more straightforwardly theatrical, and the King's music bears traces of Gilbert and Sullivan.
The menu also includes the diverse arias of the princes, a blues tune from a witch and Mr. Carmines's best moments, the exquisitely harmonized choral writing that turns up intermittently.
The production by Russell Treyz is endearingly homespun, with Nan Childress's robust piano playing, and Steve Hull's flute, clarinet and saxophone lines serving as the orchestra. Mary Ann Lee's lithe soprano and wide range is perfectly suited to Snow White's music. She was supported ably, if vocally more modestly, by the two Queens (Ann Harvey and Robin Manning), the King (Robert Sevra), the huntsman (Fred Einhorn) and the large community of animals and dwarfs.
Other notable members of the cast were Karl Heist, who as the country-and-western prince yodeled his way through his aria to his own guitar accompaniment; David Edwards, who contributed a fine tenor parody as the operatic prince; Robert McNamara, as the rock-and-roll prince, and Karen Cooper Smith, as the witch who sang the blues.
Photo: Rev. Al Carmines, photo by Gene Bagnato