As the temperatures rise fairly quickly in our city, a musical of snowy and theatrical bliss inhabits the Hobby Center. Yes, I am talking about the much anticipated tour of the movie turned Broadway hit, Frozen: the Musical. While I was a big fan of the movie, the musical takes the concepts from the film and creates a blizzard of talent and technical grandeur rarely seen from a touring production.
The musical follows the story of Anna and Elsa and begins with a fervor of excitement from the quirky sisters about Elsa’s magical powers. An unfortunate magical and wintery accident from Elsa knocks her kid sister unconscious, setting off a story that will leave the sisters emotionally distant by the time they reach adulthood. When Elsa takes the throne as queen, her anxiety is high as she does not want to reveal her powers, but an emotional moment with sister Anna and new “fiance” Hans sets her icy powers ablaze. Leaving the castle, Princess Anna and new found friends Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf set off on a journey to find Elsa. The result is a story of a true love’s kiss, but instead of romantic love saving the day, it is the love between sisters that warms the hearts of both Princess Anna, the kingdom of Arendelle, and ultimately our hearts.
Overall, the production is an example of brilliance on the part of both performance and technicality. Caroline Bowman as Elsa is one for the ages. I have personally seen her do multiple leading lady turns in several national tours, and Bowman is at her absolute best portraying the ice queen. Her rendition of “Let It Go” deserves awards and Bowman is long overdue for a Tony Award. Lauren Nicole Chapman’s take on Princess Anna is eccentric and pulls some of the biggest laughs of the show. Chapman knows how to get the laughter going and allow the audience to laugh with her. Hans as played by Austin Colby is honestly a sight for sore eyes. Colby, the attractive leading man “type”, plays Hans deliciously well as the eventual twist of his eventual deception is met with shock. Mason Reeves as the beamingly funny Kristoff is another standout, allowing audiences to fall in love with his charming and sincere demeanor. Huge kudos goes to Collin Baja and Evan Strand. They both have to embody the puppetry of Kristoff’s reindeer Sven. This role is a difficult feat of athleticism. While Baja was the opening night Sven, both actors deserve tremendous praise for their sheer wealth of athletic endurance and talent as they spend the better part of the show in what looks like an uncomfortable position. If you add the reindeer’s colorful personality, Baja and Strand evoke both laughter and mirth while contorting their bodies. Finally, the breakout character for children is F. Michael Hayne as the lovable snowman, Olaf. The character is truly a breakout role for any actor and it shows across children’s faces as they see their favorite character having a rollicking good time on stage.
The technical and design elements of this production of course are almost inconceivable. What this tour accomplishes is nothing short of a mammoth feat of precise technical prowess. Scenic design by Christopher Oram is of an outstanding nature. Any money spent on this show is worth it just for the technical aspects. The sequence of the popular song “Let It Go” will leave one breathless with excitement. As Bowman sings her heart out, the forming castle around her becomes a majestic masterpiece. Pupper Design by Michael Curry is outstanding. Curry’s design allows the new trolls, now Forest People, to portray both the spookiness and eccentricity they exude. Also, see above for the brilliance of both Sven and Olaf.
Frozen: The Musical is perfect for families. While I as a single guy do not have any children of my own, it is a wonder to watch families witnessing and enjoying a Broadway musical. This show was not my cup of tea per se, I felt the lead up to the song “Let it Go” is way to long and some creative decisions were unnecessary (take a shot every time Anna self-deprecates, or Elsa says the words ` conceal, don’t feel.’). Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Jennifer Lee have done a pretty decent job of bringing the beloved on to the stage, and will surely entertain the kiddos.
Frozen: The Musical is at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts from Thursday, June 30th to Sunday, July 17th. Tickets can be bought at the theaters box office at 800 Bagby St. or at their website at thehobbycenter.org. Performances are Tuesday thru Thursday at 7:30 PM, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, and matinee performances at 2:00 PM on Saturdays, and 1:00 PM on Sundays. Sunday evening performances begin at 6:30 PM. Masks and vaccinations are not a requirement but are strongly encouraged.