I saw an all-musical version of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” I had zero advance knowledge of the plot and was given the wrong program, presumably by accident. Here is how I interpreted the show:

It is July. We get a song from a character who is either Satan or the North Wind or both. At some point in the past, Satan had a mirror, which broke. Next we met two children, Kai and Gertl. They are approximately 8. Grandmother tells them about the Snow Queen, who lures little boys off to never be seen again. 

Kai gets something in his eye. It is a piece of Satan’s mirror, which does not hurt but causes him to be mean to Gertl, and he goes off “hitching” with his friends. (“Hitching” is when you tie your sled to the back of a passing sleigh and get a ride.) Kai hitches his sled to the back of a sleigh with many horses. He gets dragged along behind this sleigh and then it flies up into the sky with him. 

When Gertl finds out, she is so upset she throws her shoes in a river, which seems an odd way to express distress. Odder: the river takes pity on her, and gives them back. Determined Gertl climbs into a boat to take them out deeper, and the boat floats downstream to a little house covered with flowers. The house is home to a giant flower-covered old woman, who sings a creepy song about living with her for a thousand years and getting her hair combed with the old flowered woman’s golden comb. Gertl agrees to this proposal. I missed her thought process on that decision. Intermission.

It has been either four months or a thousand years and four months. Anyhow, it is November. It has come to Gertl’s attention that perhaps this is not the best way to find Kai. The narrator advises her to consult a raven. She does. The raven — convincingly portrayed by a dead bird on a stick — somehow gets her to the home of a princess, and the raven’s girlfriend — also a raven, and a friend of the princess — convinces the princess to give Gertl a couple of white horses and a ridiculous hat. Gertl thanks the princess and rides off on a wagon pulled by the two white horses, who are abruptly shot by a female robber.

The female robber suggests to Gertl that she should join her and her robber mother in robbing people and killing their horses. Gertl demurs. The robber mother arrives, criticizes the daughter, and decides she does not wish to be a robber, so the robbers give Gertl a bunch of their stuff plus a magic reindeer who knows a secret navigational trick, which he details in song. The robbers do not mention that Gertl is now down net one mammal since they started helping.

A sorceress tells Gertl that she already has the power within her to help Kai — remember Kai? — or something like that. She tells the magic reindeer to take Gertl to a special tree. The magic reindeer agrees. At the special tree, she hears Kai is singing a song, either lamenting his prison or glorifying his new home, I couldn’t tell which. Kai appears with a giant silver puppet, who I presume is the Snow Queen. She calls on her snow minions to kill Gertl. The snow minions are wearing snowflake suits and headpieces with fangs. They brandish quarterstaffs. All appears lost for Gertl until she drops to her knees and says a secret prayer. It is emphasized that the secret prayer is totally secret. It will forever remain a secret between her and the Baby Jesus because that’s what a secret prayer is, a secret. You don’t tell anybody your secret prayer, except Baby Jesus. (This was explained in lengthy, tedious song.) She shuts her eyes tight and says the secret prayer.

Immediately subsequent to transmission of the secret prayer, the Baby Jesus kills the Snow Queen and her minions. One is inclined to infer something about the contents of the secret prayer.

Kai is reunited with Gertl and weeps with joy. The weeping causes the mirror sliver — oh, did you forget about that, too? — to drop from his eye, which means he can stop being a jerk and resume being Gertl’s BFF. They travel home. Grandmother is there. Then we are told, in narrative song, that Gertl and Kai are adults in body now, but they are still children at heart. Now it is spring. They make out. We are told something about children getting into heaven. Sex is strongly implied. Everyone sings about the glories of summer. The end.

The kicker? I googled the story when I got home.  First surprise: I was mostly right. Second surprise: This story was the (loose) basis for Frozen.