By Chris Arneson
I’ll admit it; I was incredibly emotional through much of the new Frozen musical. My sentiments seemed equally matched to the tiny girl down the aisle from me, donning her sparkliest Elsa dress. Disney magic doesn’t care who you are, especially when “Let It Go” is happening.
Denver is currently host to a pre-Broadway run of Disney’s Frozen, which is expected to hit Broadway next February. This is the second time Disney has launched a Broadway-bound show in the Mile High City, the other being The Little Mermaid in 2007.
Frozen, inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of The Snow Queen, tells the story of Elsa, a freshly anointed queen with magic ice powers she’s hidden her whole life, kept a deeper secret after she injures her sister Anna when they’re children. After Elsa’s powers are discovered at her coronation, she flees to the mountains, leaving her kingdom of Arendelle in an eternal winter. Anna teams up with ice-harvester Kristoff and his reindeer, Sven, along with an enchanted snowman named Olaf, to find Elsa and put an end to her spell.
A few elements are missing, but not necessarily missed. You won’t see Marshmallow, the giant snow monster that Anna and friends battle before finding Elsa. In fact, much of their journey up the mountain, including a run-in with a pack of wolves, is cut, replaced with a sweet duet between Anna and Kristoff, “What Do You Know About Love?”
Wandering Oaken’s trading post, where movie fans might recall an appearance of his assumed gay family hanging out in a sauna, is now home instead to his friends, who turn out a nearly-naked kickline to the new song “Hygge,” a Danish term loosely translated as a “feeling of coziness.” While the new number is a lighthearted and fun kickoff to the second act, it was a letdown seeing Disney abandon instead of expand on a possible progressive theme. But naked kicklines, right?
The trolls, now referred to as Hidden Folk, take on a different vibe on stage as well. Think Avatar meets Tarzan—Avatarzan, if you will. They provide the same magical purpose, but their presence feels less comical than the film. Leaders Pabbie and Bulda remain as nurturers, as does the song “Fixer Upper,” which is catchy but has always felt distant from the score for me.
Overall, the production provides the dazzling effects you’ve come to expect with Disney Theatrical Group. Its relationships do go deeper, but it still hasn’t nailed an unexplored depth between Elsa and Anna’s relationship. Frozen may need some work before its Broadway debut, but there’s no question even its current incarnation will satisfy every kind of crowd.
By Jerry Cunningham
Catapulting Frozen from Denver to Broadway, director Michael Grandage and his production team have created a show that is wildly creative and delightfully entertaining for everyone. Auspiciously different than the movie, but unmistakably faithful to the story line, Frozen is only here for another few short days and then it’s off to Broadway, for what will certainly be a very long and very successful run.
In short, this show brings us everything the child and child-at-heart loves about musical theater!
Forever frozen in musical theater history books is the star-worthy cast of Cassie Levy (Else), Patti Murin (Anna), Jelani Alladin (Kristoff), Robert Creighton (Weselton), John Riddle (Hans), Kevin Del Aguila (Oaken), Timothy Hughes (Pabbie), and Andrew Pirozzi (Sven).
Such magical stagecraft is not possible without its supporting cast of characters — 40 all-told, including Alicia Albright, Tracee Beazer, Wendi Bergamini, Ashley Blanchet, James Brown III, Claire Camp, Lauren Nicole Chapman, Spencer Clark, Jeremy Davis, Kali Grinder, Ashley Elizabeth Hale, Zach Hess, Donald Jones, Jr., Nina Lafarga, Ross Lekites, Austin Lesch, Synthia Link, Travis Patton, Adam Perry, Jeff Pew, Olivia Phillip, Noah J. Ricketts, Ann Sanders, Jacob Smith, and Nicholas Ward. Audrey Bennett and Mattea Conforti share the role of Young Anna and Brooklyn Nelson, and Ayla Schwartz shares the role of Young Elsa.
This show is playing in Denver through October 1, 2017.
Denver Center for the Performing Arts
1101 13th St, Denver, CO 80204
Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at (303) 893-4100.