Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Frozen (Broadway)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

In the kingdom of Arendelle lived two sisters, the best of friends whose bond will be tested by a gift that everyone considers to be a curse. Elsa (MiMi Ryder) is cyrokinetic and accidentally injures her little sister Anna (Zoe Glick) while playing with ice and snow. The incident causes the siblings to grow apart, not by choice but rather by necessity. When their parents set sail and perish in a shipwreck, the crown is passed to the eldest child. As the new queen, Elsa (Caissie Levy) is forced to open the gates and socialize with everyone again despite her reluctance to do so given her lack of dominion over her powers. Just as the two sisters are on speaking terms again, Anna (Lauren Nicole Chapman) breaks the news of her plan to marry Hans (John Riddle), a foreign prince she just met who is 12th in line to his own kingdom’s throne. The petty argument escalates, provoking a supernatural show of force from the queen. Afraid, she flees to the snowcapped mountains leaving an eternal winter in the wake of her departure.

Act 1 ends with Let It Go, which is comparable but not quite in the same level as Wicked’s Defying Gravity. Nevertheless, there is that similar feeling of emancipation which makes the two songs ever so popular. The costume change is accomplished with a quick and literal costume drop, with Elsa already wearing her icy gown under her royal robe. The final note is extended to accommodate a quick about-face accompanied by strobe lights and thundering sound effects. Let's not be too unfair and compare this to the animated feature which had the advantage of CGI. For what it’s worth, they make do of what they have onstage, and the audience goes wild.

While Wicked relies on gravity-defying mechanics to let its message soar, Frozen depends on a combo of light and sound effects that can be a bit underwhelming. There is this one epic scene where shards of giant ice emerge from the castle walls, but it appears to be the only instance. It would have been fun to see a giant ice castle emerging from the ground as seen in the film. Perhaps a giant revolving trapdoor and lots of fiber glass could do the trick. But Frozen is just one long light show. And since it appears that people haven’t really let their fascination with this narrative go just yet, it works to everyone’s delight.

Olaf appears to roaring applause. The technique used is similar to Avenue Q’s, except that he is a life-size walking puppet and the puppeteer is way too visible behind him sporting the same white look. After a while you learn to disregard the actor and just focus on the character itself. The crowd just went wild even before his In Summer song number began. It makes you realize how wildly popular the movie really was. It’s pretty obvious that many of the people in the audience tonight are big fans.

In terms of acting, everyone is on point. Ryder and Glick are just so fun to watch onstage. Their chemistry is so natural, they seem like sisters for real. Levy and Chapman both have amazing vocals and neither one resorts to grandstanding. The acting style is catered more to children, which might bore some adults a bit, although there are just too many distractions in this musical that there really should be no room for such ennui. Overall, it’s an enjoyable experience that complements the film quite well.

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