The Broadway-bound Frozen musical opened its out of town tryout in Denver on August 17. I was lucky to be there, though not as media, and wanted to share with the MiceChat community. These are just my honest thoughts about the new show. While I don’t give too much away, there are some spoilers, so please be warned.
Right off the bat the show establishes itself as its own entity separate from the movie. Pabbie (Timothy Hughes), a troll in the movie, is now a Scandinavian hidden folk creature serving as narrator and provider of insight into Elsa and Anna’s lives. The backstory of the young princesses and their parents is more developed, and establishing Elsa’s fears and Anna’s fearlessness early on allows us to delve deeper into their psyches later. New songs for Elsa help us understand the conflict between her head and heart, and Kristoff (Jelani Alladin) and Anna (Patti Murin) duet on a playful song in which they try to one up each other on what they know about love. Hans, played with mesmerizing charm by John Riddle, gets his own song and has a voice that would make anyone fall in love with him. Sadly, the multi-talented Robert Creighton is underutilized as the Duke of Weselton.
With a powerhouse voice, Caissie Levy makes Elsa her own. During “Let It Go,” the much anticipated transformation of the stage into the ice castle is somewhat of a let down, as it mainly consists of a Swarovski crystal curtain. Hopefully the scene is bare bones due to the limited 7 week engagement, and the castle will be a spectacular creation in its permanent home at the St. James Theatre in NYC. Elsa’s instant dress change, on the other hand, is an impressive crowd-pleaser that ends Act 1.
Rob Ashford’s choreography makes for some high-energy fun, especially the Oaken (Kevin Del Aguila) number that opens Act 2. The dance numbers allow the amazing supporting cast their time to shine. Sven (Andrew Pirozzi) received the biggest spontaneous cheer during his surprise appearance early in the show, and the other trusty companion, Olaf (Greg Hildreth), is constructed similarly to the one in use at DCA’s Hyperion Theatre. There is a quiet yet clever scene where Kristoff and Anna control different parts of Olaf after his head and body are separated, so big scenes are not always required; however, like with “Let It Go,” Olaf’s “In Summer” lacked oomph.
The same team of songwriters – Kristen and Bobby Lopez – and story writer, Jennifer Lee, from the movie worked on the stage version, a luxury since they’ve had four years since the movie was released to hear people’s questions and think about what they would elaborate on if given the chance. When Anna tells Hans that he didn’t meet the heir, but rather the spare, it is a nod to a cut song originally written for the movie. The human complexities of family and love has always been the theme of Frozen, but the Broadway version skillfully showcases how each character interprets those things differently, and how their misguided and innocent hopes and dreams shape who they are.
There is enough of the movie to please the little ones in the audience, and even the coldest heart would be hard pressed not to get swept up by the chemistry exhibited by this diverse cast. The version of Frozen I saw on the first night of previews will be different by the end of its Denver run on October 1. By the time it reaches Broadway in February, Elsa and Anna should have the staying power of Elphaba and Glinda, characters that both Caissie and Patti have portrayed in their careers. A few tickets remain for the Denver shows, and tickets for NY are on sale now and going fast, so make your plans now for the best selection.
Frozen on Broadway will officially open at the St. James Theatre on March 22, 2018; however, previews will begin February 22.
Are you hot for the Broadway version of Frozen . . . or are you ready to let this franchise go?