Frozen... Pt 2
Review by Emilee Hatfield
September 29, 2017, Denver, Colorado 7:30PM
As Frozen the Broadway Bound Musical wrapped up its final days here in the Mile High City, itwould seem the show will be leaving with a lot of work to be done before it’s February opening on Broadway.
While seeing this show the second day it opened, I was not surprised to find that the show needed work, and that there were pieces that just didn’t fit. It is what is to be expected out of a show that just opened to the public the day prior. However its quirks and lost vision made it rather difficult for it to please anyone past the age of nine, or people who had never seen the film.
So naturally with being so displeased and curious, I decided to see what the production team would do differently within its last week when comparing it to it's opening week. Obviously there were some slight changes made, and when I mean slight. I mean they are not by any means noticeable if you were as distracted as I or some other audience members were while watching the show the first time around. As I have said in my first review, the children in the audience can be a bit of a distraction. While not as bad as the first experience, the noises made were very noticeable. But… there was also something else I noticed. Children were falling asleep not having the capacity to sit through the two and a half hour long show. I do still firmly believe Disney should market this show towards older audience members, and not the parents that are so desperate to get a reaction out of their young child. All they are doing now is causing little Anna’s and Elsa’s to get cranky in the middle of a performance because it is way past their bedtime.
But I digress, having more focus on the show did allow me to see some improvements as well as some problems that still were in need of attention. The first being one very large loss of opportunity that I feel the show should in this instance look back to the film. In the opening of the film we are welcomed with an intriguing song called, “Frozen Heart,” It sets the tone of the story and adds in the element of the Norwegian culture and lore. During the show however the song has been taken out and replaced with a small song written for young Anna and Elsa. While reaching more into the creation of Olaf and the bond the sisters had when they were younger, this song works perfectly. However it does not mean that the cut song should not be in the show at all but rearranged. The rearrangement of the song would give way to fix another missed opportunity and what I see as the biggest disappoint within the musical.
The Hidden Folk are the characters that have replaced the trolls in the film. I love the overall concept of the hidden folk, I find that having them appear as this mysterious and cultural group is a good start. But… once they start singing the well known tune Fixer Upper I find the concept rush out having hidden away under a rock.
This is a point I do hope the creative team does change before Broadway. If you are going to transform the hidden folk into this type of characters then make them those type of characters. Do not try and force a song that clearly will not fit with of them because all it does is ruin what the overall production is going for.
This also leads into the puppetry, which can be seen as both an improvement but also a problem. The characters of Sven and Olaf are very lovable within the movie. Capturing many peoples hearts, young and old. While in the musical… they appear to be much more of a distraction that just doesn’t seem to fit the story as well as we thought. Sven’s puppetry by Michael Curry is without saying an amazing feet, having an actor within the suit controls the puppet and gives him a very lifelike feel. His mannerism were much better this time as he moved more naturally; while Olaf… Still appears to be the problem.
During this performance the actor who controls and voices the puppet Greg Hildreth accidentally detached Olaf’s head from the rest of his body. Being the snowman it was very easy to play it off, however it is a mistake that shouldn’t be left unchecked. Yes, props break, but a puppet is a much bigger deal. The puppetry within Frozen, I feel is unnecessary and not needed. The perfect example being is another Disney musical that is still taking Broadway by storm. This being Aladdin; while the film version had a monkey and a talking parrot, the creative team chose not to go with Lion King’s route with puppetry. Instead they created human characters that actually helped audiences enjoy the show more so than the film. It gave the show and performance a more realistic take and the audience members a version of the show they weren’t expecting. That is what makes Disney musicals so popular and well received. There are changes made from the original material and they blend well with the original ideas from their counterparts. This also is the small but meaningful change that attracts older audiences as well.
When looking at the design of the production as a whole, I will say this is where the improvements appear. The set was much more defined, and the projections and visuals that are used for Elsa’s powers are on a steady climb. Scenic designer, Christopher Oram did add a few details here and there to cause the once almost bare set to appear much smaller than originally. With the help of some icy borders, and well thought out designing he tricks the audience. The Buell Theatre’s stage is very large, much more so than the Broadway bond theatre The St. James. This theatre is much smaller and I think Oram’s small changes and overall design will shine once making it the Great White Way.
There are still some acting choices, that were a bit bizarre and out of no where to say the least. While Caissie Levy continued to stand strong, portraying Elsa perfectly, some actors can be seen as still trying to find their way into character. Pattie Murin who is playing Princess Anna is very good portraying Anna’s innocences, and lack of attention, but their costars, could use a bit more time to dig deeper into their characters motives. Overall the casting is still very well done, and their vocals are very pleasing to the ear. It is though quite clear some were not prepared for the altitude that comes with performing in Denver.
With this being said, I did enjoy this performance than my first experience. I did enjoy and laugh at certain points, like Hygge; one of the best moments and songs in the show. As well as almost all the songs. This soundtrack I will be purchasing upon its release. Robert Lopez and his wife Kristin Anderson-Lopez again have done very well with the score, but some adds and cuts could be made if need be. It is here that you can almost catch a glimpse of what Frozen is trying to be. With the song Monster we are able to get an idea in mind and even with that little glimpse; we can see just how good this show can be.
It can go without being said. There comes a time when a story must grow up and Frozen isn’t really showing a defined age; with the mixed concepts of the Hill Folk, and the supposed dancing snowman. They build up multiple distractions while blinding everyone to the true tone, and overall concept that the musical is trying to get across.
Frozen does need work before Broadway, hopefully it will find it’s age within that time.