The touring production of Disney’s ‘Frozen’ at Playhouse Square is family friendly magic
I need to be perfectly honest with you. When I first heard that the Broadway Touring Production of Disney’s “Frozen” was coming to Cleveland my reaction was, “Ohhh Goodee...I-Can-Hardly-Wait.” One advantage I did have over a majority of the audience members was that I had never been exposed to the animated version. My youngest son, Matt, however was working at Target when the 2013 animated Frozen Phenomena hit the country so he knew most of the original songs by heart (talk about an ear worm).
Thus the two of us attended with baited breath. I am here to tell you that this is one of the most enjoyable evenings of musical theater ever. While no “Lion King” it really is a solid evening of magic and delight. All of the elements come together. The cast is in remarkably fine voice, the costumes and sets are fantastic, the acting superb and the orchestration and singing top notch. Add to that some mind blowing special video effects and it is no wonder that the two hour and twenty minute show (with twenty minute intermission) flew by.
With music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and book by Jennifer Lee the Broadway version is based on the animated film of the same name. Lots of additional music was written for the stage version so your little ones may be a bit surprised that the show is not exactly like the movie that they watched 84 times. You may wish to mention this to them on the ride to downtown. Needless to say it is a great production never the less.
We are introduced to two princesses, Elsa of Arendelle and her rambunctious younger sister Anna. Only Elsa’s parents are aware of her secret magical power...the ability to freeze things. This is kept from not only the townspeople but Anna as well.
The two youngsters are playing at bedtime building a “magical snowman” out of bits and bobs. They name their new friend Olaf. In the excitement, Elsa casts a freezing spell on Anna injuring her. King Agnarr and Queen Iduna call for help and a colony of hidden folk arrive. Their leader, the Grand Pabbie heals Anna and takes away any memories of her sister’s magic. The King asks that the magic be taken from Elsa but that is an impossible request. The parents decide to separate the two girls in the palace. Seeking years later to find a cure for Elsa the King and Queen they are killed in a storm at sea.
Soon, it is time for Elsa’s coronation as Queen of Arendelle. The gates of the palace are opened once again and Anna chances to meet Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. They quickly fall in love and decide to marry. When Anna is presented to her sister (now Queen) they at first get along. It is when Anna asks for Elsa’s blessing to marry Hans that Elsa becomes angry inadvertently unleashing her powers. Elsa flees to the North Mountain leaving Arendelle engulfed in an eternal winter.
Anna goes off in search of her sister leaving Hans in charge of the palace. Anna finds Kristoff and his reindeer Sven whom she had met at the coronation. Kristoff convinces her to change from her coronation dress into something more winter appropriate which he supplies. She leaves the dress in a snow drift and they depart to look for Elsa. They are soon joined by Olaf who is actually now a talking snowman who offers to guide them. Meanwhile, Anna’s dress is found by a palace guard and fearing for Anna’s safety, Hans organizes a search party. While this is all going on, Elsa is busy building a palace out of ice and in a bit of magic transforms her coronation dress into a white and silver shimmering ice gown.
First of all...the cast. They are terrific. Caroline Bowman as Elsa is superb as an actor and singer. Her rendition of “Let It Go” is a real show stopper complete with some special effect magic. Lauren Nicole Chapman as Anna has an amazing voice as well. Ryan McCartan as Hans the man you love to hate is great. Zach Trimmer does a fine job as Kristoff and when matched up with Collin Baja as the reindeer Sven make for a comic pair. You will swear that there are two people operating Sven but it is in fact one man on tiptoes and with hand stilts. The same can be said about F. Michael Haynie as Olaf. After awhile he disappears in plain view. Michael Milkanin as the owner of Wandering Oaks Trading Post and Sauna does a delightful bit with his merry band of sauna buddies who dance and cavort in skin suits doing a wonderfully funny burlesque with branches.
A real star of the show is the video special effects by Jeremy Chernick that transforms the stage into ice palaces complete with snow. The music is arranged by Dave Metzger. The ten piece orchestra has many members playing a variety of instruments. They fill the massive theater with sound. Lighting Design is by Natasha Katz with Sound Design by Peter Hylenski. Special mention also to Michael Curry for his puppet design of Olaf and Sven. The production is Directed by Thomas Schumacher.
When your youngsters come begging for you to take them to see the Broadway Touring Production of Disney’s “Frozen”, trust me. You will enjoy it as much if not more than they will. This is solid family entertainment that is great musical theater for all ages.
The touring production of Disney’s “Frozen” will be on stage in the Keybank State Theatre at Playhouse Square through September 11, 2022. For more information and tickets go to https://www.playhousesquare.org/events/detail/frozen-2022 or call (216) 241-6000.