Caroline Bowman in the North American Tour of Frozen. Photo: DeenvanMeer
Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Book by Jennifer Lee
Based on the Walt Disney film written by Jennifer Lee and directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
A review by Regina Harris
Entire contents are copyright @ 2024 by Regina Harris. All rights reserved.
The most magical place on earth Thursday night was the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts as Disney’s Broadway musical Frozen blew into Louisville.
The touring company dazzled from the first, introducing young actresses Savannah Lumar and Emma Origines making their Broadway Tour debuts. From their entrance with “Let the Sun Shine On” Lumar as Young Elsa and Origines as Young Anna shone bright with their substantial voices and big personalities that belied their small frames. Origines played the quintessential “little sister” hyperactively bouncing around and begging her big sis Anna to play after lights out, and Lumar matched her energy as a beleaguered but indulgent older sister. Their patient parents, Queen Iduna (Katie Mariko Murray) and King Agnarr (Kyle Lamar Mitchell) sadly become convinced that they must teach young Elsa to “conceal, don’t feel” her emotions to protect those around her (especially her sister) from being turned to ice when she feels big emotions instead of finding another way to deal with them.
Gretel Scarlett was brilliant as Thursday night’s adult Elsa, with every song masterfully performed. To say her version of “Let It Go” was breathtaking would be an understatement. Her powerful voice and luminous presence filled the hall as the special effects at the end of Act One left me and my companion (actually, my Disney-loving adult daughter) agape.
Lauren Nicole Chapman as adult Anna was no less captivating. Her vocals were strong, and her interpretation of socially awkward Anna was very funny. One thing that struck me about the live performance of Anna is that she is written more fervently boy-crazy than animated Anna. The Disney formula of adding some sly adult humor into kids’ movies that were so successful in the early ’90s was so rampant with her character that it verged on being overdone. Nonetheless, Chapman’s performance was totally endearing.
Gullible Anna becomes captivated by the handsome and devious Prince of the Southern Isles, Hans (Preston Perez), and falls instantly in love with him, becoming engaged on the spot (what else would a love-starved princess do?) Perez was so convincingly caddish that a few folks unfairly booed him at his curtain call (yikes). Alternately, his antithesis, kind underdog Kristoff (Dominic Dorset) along with his faithful reindeer Sven (Dan Plehal, wearing a 90 lb. marvel of a puppet costume designed to dance, bow, and even coyly bat his eyelashes) provided balance; and most especially, guileless snowman Olaf (another puppet character expertly operated by Jeremy Davis) completed the talented cast that brought Arendelle to life.
Connecting Kentucky to the kingdom of Arendelle, Oldham County native Jack Brewer as Oaken the shopkeeper opened act two by jovially welcoming the Kentucky audience into Norwegian culture, leading to a hilarious Las Vegas-style salute to the concept of “Hygge” (what it is and isn’t). Likewise, Indiana native Evan Duff exquisitely stormed about the stage buffoon-like as the Duke of Weselton.
However, the overarching star of the show was the spectacular lighting and astonishing special effects which elevated the performance from exciting entertainment to otherworldly experience. Electric snow swirls and dazzling ice fractals sparkled all over the stage; and whether by illusion or by design, even the air in Whitney Hall felt colder when Elsa showed up.
Anyone who doesn’t enjoy the exuberance of children at the theatre will need to chill; there were several little Elsa’s and Anna’s (and other kids of all ages in their best ball gowns) in attendance Thursday night. As we exited the theatre after the standing ovation, one little princess asked me (through missing teeth) about my favorite part of the show, and we shared our mutual exhilaration for a minute. Come to think of it, while some kids were little, others were card-carrying adults; but all of us were swept up in the sparkling magic of Disney’s Frozen.
Featuring Caroline Bowman, Lauren Nicole Chapman, Jeremy Davis, Dominic Dorset, Preston Perez, Collin Baja, Evan Duff, Dan Plehal, Annie Piper Braverman, Erin Choi, Savannah Lumar, Emma Origenes, Alicia Albright, Kate Bailey, Jack Brewer, Kristen Smith Davis, Sarah Dearstyne, Leigh-Ann Esty, Michael Everett, Jason Goldston, Natalie Goodin, Michael Allan Haggerty, Zach Hess, Tyler Jimenez, Adrianna Rose Lyons, Alexander Mendoza, Kyle Lamar Mitchell, Katie Mariko Murray, Tony Neidenbach, Renée Reid, Gretel Scarlett, Sammy Schechter, Nick Silverio, Daniel Switzer, Natalie Wisdom, and Peli Naomi Woods
January 24-February 4, 2024
PNC Broadway in Louisville
Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
501 W Main Steet
Louisville, KY 40206
Regina Harris has lived in Louisville for nearly three decades and has worked for many of its theatre companies and venues in various capacities. She holds a degree in Humanities from UL and currently works as a Youth Development Specialist at United Crescent Hill Ministries. To express her love for great food as well as Louisville history and architecture, she is a guide with Louisville Food Tours.