Grace Platt. Photo: Stage One
Disney’s Frozen Jr.
Music & Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez
Book by Jennifer Lee
Based on the Disney film written by Jennifer Lee and directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Directed by Andrew D. Harris & Hannah Wemitt
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2019 Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Two curiosities inform this review. One is that it is my second of back-to-back reviews of stage musicals adapted from Walt Disney animated movies, and the other is that I have never seen the original Frozen film.
Should that disqualify me from reviewing Disney’s Frozen Jr.? I don’t believe familiarity with the original material is germane, and perhaps I was better off being able to approach the material as fresh if that is even possible after living through the cultural oversaturation that accompanies any new release from the Mouse House.
Perhaps most important, this production is the introduction of a new program from Stage One Family Theater, For Kids – By Kids. The cast was under 18, as were many of the crew. Despite the abbreviated script, the performance doesn’t shortchange the audience.
As most of you will know, Frozen tells the story of one princess, Anna, who sets off on a journey alongside an iceman, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven, and a comical snowman, Olaf, in search of her estranged sister Elsa, whose magical powers have inadvertently trapped their kingdom in eternal winter.
For a show that runs slightly more than one hour, it is stuffed with musical numbers, including the Oscar-winning “Let It Go”, performed with great feeling by Grace Platt. You might get away with some half measures in Frozen, but this song has to score or it might not matter how good the rest might be. Ms. Platt delivers a strong vocal well supported by a mature and disciplined stage presence. She knows she has a great song, and that there is no need to do anything except sing it loud and clear.
Annalise Finch is a charming Anna, even if a temperamental mic failed her good singing in the early going. The show gives Elsa THE song, but it gives Anna greater depth of character and no small amount of humor to play, and Ms. Finch makes a lasting impression, even if she sometimes doesn’t know what to do with her hands.
The sisters were ably played and sung at younger ages by Kennedy Julian and Audrey Lucas (Anna), and Emmie Siegel and Caylen Judd (Elsa).
Olaf the snowman is a temptation to overact, but Zane Miller resists and finds the comedy with understated effect. Mr. Miller crafted a fine nasal delivery to complement his bulbous costume and oversize carrot for a nose and landed his laughs with minimum effort. Brandon Greenwald also felt at ease in fulfilling the gruff leading man requirements of Kristoff while Lila Shaffner made for a fine deadpan Sven.
This lack of showiness reflects the good taste and educational discipline of directors Andrew D. Harris and Hannah Wemitt. While the principals understandably stood out, the whole ensemble does good work, including ably managing some choreography by Maggie Schoenbaechler that was expressive without overreaching. A small corps of five dancers provided the atmosphere and illustrated the magic in place of special effects. Allison Anderson’s costumes perfectly realized the trademark Disney vision and Corie Caudill’s block-form sets were a 3-D storybook
Kids in the audience who I must assume are VERY familiar with this story seemed thrilled, and the goofy comic spirit of the thing is summed up in the uproarious “Hygge” number and its eccentric family of hidden people.
Coming in July as it does, I was anticipating a summer camp production filled with precocious kids struggling to remember lines and movements, but my curmudgeonly instincts were defeated by a talented and motivated cast that made this Frozen Jr. hugely entertaining.
Featuring Kennedy Julian, Emmie Siegel, Audrey Lucas, Caylen Judd, Annalise Finch, Grace Platt, Clark Worden, Liv Gudmundson, Zach Brown, Noah Stewart, Brandon Greenwald, Zane Miller, Lila Schaffner, Jacob Stone, Elise McKenna-Sparks, Alesha Thom, Nichelle Noble, Lily Kempf, Connor Greene, Polly Bates, Madison Pierce, Silas Haendiges, Elise Wobbe, Marissa Burch, Lola Kathryn, KG Bouvier, Paige Franklin, & Corrie Sherman.
Disney’s Frozen Jr.
July 19 – 27 @ 7:00 pm
Stage One Family Theater
Ursuline Arts Center
3114 Lexington Road
Louisville, KY 40206
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.