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Review: ‘Frozen’ the Musical Stuns on its National Tour

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You might be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of Disney’s Frozen in the past decade. The film first burst on the scene back in 2013, forever changing the landscape of what an animated movie could be. With Idina Menzel voicing Elsa, a Queen with beautiful but chaotic powers of ice and snow, and Kristen Bell as her sister Anna, the loveable spare to the throne; Frozen tells the story of the unbreakable bond between two sisters and the unconditional love that’s tested between them. The film made 1.334 billion dollars at the box office, so sequels and spin-offs were developed naturally, turning the franchise into a powerhouse. Along those lines, Frozen the Musical was developed for Broadway, a show currently on a national tour across the United States.

Development of Frozen the Musical began in January 2014, not long after the initial film came out. However, the show didn’t begin previews on Broadway until February 2018. As with all adaptations, the stage show features changes from the original, such as new songs paired with those from the film, all of which were written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The book (the story) also has ties to the 2013 film, which was written by Jennifer Lee, writer and co-director of Frozen. Those who worked together to make the animated film strong were also there to shepherd the success of Frozen the Musical.

So, is Frozen the Musical worth your time, or should you let this show go? Continue to find out more!

[Warning: Spoilers from Frozen the Musical are below!]

Act One: the power of fear and letting it go in Frozen the Musical

When we first meet Elsa and Anna, played by Erin Choi and Annie Piper Braverman respectively in this show, they are the best of friends. Their sisterhood is built on joy and laughter, the type typically seen in young siblings. Anna, the younger of the two, is a bundle of energy, which she uses to pull Elsa out of her shell. Especially at night when the two should be sleeping. Elsa is more mature, but even though at times she’s exasperated, she can’t seem to say no to her sister.

It’s here where the story begins, out of bed in the middle of the night. A night that changes their relationship forever. Anna begs her sister to use her magic, magic that’s kept secret from anyone else in Arendelle, except for the royals. Elsa gives in, however, amidst the joyful time between the two sisters, things get out of control. Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her powers, resulting in their parents, King Agnarr (Kyle Lamar Mitchell) and Queen Iduna (Katie Mariko Murray), seeking the aid of the hidden folk to save Anna’s life.

Grand Pabbie (Tyler Jimenez), leader of the hidden folk, can do so, but has to erase all traces of magic from Anna’s mind. This changes the sister’s relationship forever, as Elsa learns to hide away her powers, distancing herself from Anna from that moment on. That is, until the King and Queen are lost at sea and Elsa must take the throne.

Elsa (Caroline Bowman). Frozen the Musical.
Elsa (Caroline Bowman). Frozen the Musical. (Broadway in Detroit).

Now, adults, the sisters are experiencing vastly different emotions about the pending coronation. Elsa (Caroline Bowman) is terrified of exposing her powers in front of everyone and being seen as a monster. Anna (Lauren Nicole Chapman) on the other hand craves human interaction. With the castle shut off for years and being separated from Elsa, Anna’s lonely and socially awkward. As a result, when some stranger, Hans of the Southern Isles (Preston Perez), asks for her hand in marriage on the same night they meet, she jumps at the opportunity.

Elsa rejects the proposal, leading to a confrontation between the two sisters, with the newly anointed Queen unleashing her powers in front of everyone at the coronation. Scared, she flees, sending Arendelle into a harsh winter. Anna, thinking of both her people and her sister, takes off after her.

On her journey through the snow, she’s joined by Christoff (Dominic Dorset), a disgruntled ice maker in the middle of a surprise winter, and his loveable reindeer Sven (Collin Baja in this show). Olaf (Jeremy Davis), a living snowman with a gigantic personality, also joins the group on their search. Together, this group must make it to the North Mountain before Arendelle is lost to the snow. The first act ends with the most recognizable song from the entire show, “Let It Go”, sung by Elsa as she decides that she no longer needs to be controlled by her fear. Instead, she can embrace who she is and live on the mountain forevermore.

Act Two: Some people are worth melting for in this Broadway show

After intermission, Frozen the Musical is off to the races, opening once again with the hilarious scene at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Sauna. From this moment on are some of the biggest additions to the musical, with several new songs. The story itself stays relatively the same, just enhanced with the added music and lyrics to further the story. After gathering the necessary supplies, Anna, Olaf, Christoff, and Sven continue their journey to the top of the North Mountain. But the reunion is lackluster at best.

Elsa isn’t looking to return to Arendelle and Queendom, which Anna doesn’t quite understand. The latter thinks Elsa can just turn the snow and ice off, but Elsa doesn’t know how. Instead, the knowledge of the eternal winter makes her more upset, leading to another accidental injury. This time, Anna takes Elsa’s magic to the heart, which begins to turn her to ice. At least, that’s what Pabbie informs the group when they seek his help once again.

Elsa (Caroline Bowman) and Anna (Lauren Nicole Chapman). Frozen the Musical.
Elsa (Caroline Bowman) and Anna (Lauren Nicole Chapman). Frozen the Musical. (Broadway in Detroit).

Because the magic strikes her heart, Pabbie is unable to reverse the effects. Slowly, Anna will turn into an ice sculpture. The only way to save her is through an act of true love. Christoff, realizing he loves her, knows that he has to take her back to Arendelle so she can kiss Hans, saving her from the frozen magic. Those who have seen the movie know how this story ends, with the relationship between Elsa and Anna being front and center. However, if you haven’t seen it, I’m not going to ruin for you how Frozen the Musical comes to a satisfying conclusion.

The positives and negatives of Disney’s Frozen the Musical

Having grown up in a Disney family, I’m never disappointed by a film or show from the studio. That being said, Frozen has been one of my favorites since I first saw it in theaters. At the time that it came out, I was a broke college student, but I still saw it multiple times in theaters. Mostly with my nephews, who were young at the time, but I enjoyed it immensely every time I saw it. The story flipped the traditional Disney narrative of love between a prince and princess but instead focused on the love of family. 

That heartwarming message is still at the core of Frozen the Musical, making me just as emotional as when I watch the film. Frozen’s story is strong and universal, as nearly everyone can understand the love of a family. Watching the musical brought back all the warm feelings from the film, as it’s just as heartwarming as its predecessor, perhaps even more so.

What was also exciting was the amount of Broadway magic presented on the stage. I wasn’t quite sure how Frozen the Musical was going to pull off all the effects that are present in the film. For starters, Elsa uses her ice powers a ton, so how exactly were they going to pull it off without it looking cheesy? Through the use of projections, lighting, glitter, rigs, and fans, those who put the musical together manage to do so spectacularly.

I was thoroughly impressed multiple times throughout the show by the way her magic comes to life in ways that don’t pull you out of the experience. It looks like magic, and for all intents and purposes, it is. What they managed to do is nothing short of magical and from the response of the audience members around me, I wasn’t the only one in complete awe.

Sven (Collin Baja) and Olaf (Jeremy Davis). Frozen the Musical.
Sven (Collin Baja) and Olaf (Jeremy Davis). Frozen the Musical. (Broadway in Detroit).

Elsa’s ice wasn’t the only bit of stage magic present in Frozen the Musical. The design and costumes of Olaf and Sven also fall into that same category. Just like the magic, I didn’t know what to expect from both of these characters, but what we got on stage was nothing short of magical. I half expected Olaf to be a person dressed as a snowman, but the reality was even more special. Jeremy Davis was indeed dressed up in a costume that resembled the colors of snow and a carrot; however, he mans a large puppet of Olaf. One of his hands controls the head, while the under moves his arms. His feet were also connected to the feet of the puppet. 

The intricate work that Davis has to put into meaning Olaf is something amazing to see. Eventually, you almost forget there’s a man behind the puppet, as Davis truly becomes one with the snowman. Olaf is one of my all-time favorite animated characters, with Davis proving he’s the absolute right casting for this role. From among an incredible cast, Jeremy Davis was a star for me in this role.

The entire show is strong, a compliment that extends to most of the cast. There wasn’t a single person on stage that was weak in any way. You can tell that all those involved are having the time of their lives playing these iconic characters, and their artistry shows.

Of course, special praise has to go to Caroline Bowman and Lauren Nicole Chapman, who carry the show as Elsa and Anna respectively. This show is about these characters specifically, so it shouldn’t be too much of a shock that these two actresses are front and center of the show. Those who created this show had to nail the casting of these two, both have big shoes to fill. And they do nail it. Bowman and Chapman are these characters through and through, and easily on par with Menzel and Bell.

For everything I loved about the show, there were a few of the added songs to Frozen the Musical that didn’t resonate with me as much as I would have liked. Songs such as “Hygge” and “Let the Sun Shine On” were alright additions, but got buried by some of the powerhouse songs from the film. Did they take away from the experience? Absolutely not, however, I don’t think they added anything exceptional to the show. That being said, there are some songs, such as “What Do You Know About Love?” and “Monster” that are brilliant and work perfectly with the story. 

Final thoughts on Frozen the Musical

Overall, Frozen the Musical is the perfect show to go and see with your family. It’s exactly the story that you and your children know, with some added bits to extend the show. Frozen is engaging, with a ton of movement and dancing, which will captivate anyone in attendance. There is no stopping the magic, as this is one show you don’t want to miss out on. Check out Frozen the Musical when it stops in your city!

Frozen the Musical is currently in Detroit, with plenty more stops across North America coming soon. Please let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus if you intend to check out this musical!

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