Written by Alina Mae Wilson
In 2013, Frozen soared into public consciousness on belting power and beatific sparkle. With the nearly universal popularity of songs like “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, “For the First Time in Forever,” and “Let It Go,” that Frozen would make an appearance on Broadway was utterly inevitable. Perhaps the only surprise is that it’s taken as long as it has. Yet here we are, in the year of our Lord 2023, and Disney’s Frozen has finally arrived in Orange County.
Playing at Segerstrom theater until Feb 19, the tenderhearted story of two sisters solidifying (pun intended) their love and acceptance for one another beckons gleefully, promising audience members a night of wonder and blissful enchantment. While not wholly successful in delivering this promise, with top-tier performers and some dazzling costume changes, Frozen will likely capture young theatergoers’ attention with the cloying charm of a Disney princess at a child’s birthday party.
It’s easy to understand Frozen’s appeal. The story focuses on the royal sisters Elsa and Anna. While Elsa struggles to keep her magical ice powers a secret from the entire kingdom, Anna works hard to regain her sister’s trust and rebuild their relationship through all her struggles. It is a beautiful story about compassion, strength, and self-celebration. The new Broadway show detracts from the original score and story more than it enhances.
As stated above, I think it’s easy to understand the popularity of the original Frozen score. Songs like “For the First Time in Forever” and “Let It Go” are fun to listen to and sing. Frozen is not the first Disney film to be turned into a stage production. That new songs would be added was expected. That they would range from forgettable to downright irritating was not. I didn’t like the character of Oaken in the movie—so imagine my aggravation when they gave this absurd shopkeeper not only a monologue but an entire song and dance number courtesy of his nude family (not to worry, the show is still family-friendly and they were wearing body suits). It’s meant to be funny and lighthearted, but I couldn’t tell you if I was more bored or annoyed by the end of the number.
Elsa has a new song singing about not wanting to be a monster. The general feel of what they were going for is understandable, but the song itself is just not that interesting. Someone had the idea to get rid of the “For the First Time in Forever Reprise,” and I took that personally. Especially because it was replaced by a song that is, you guessed it, utterly forgettable. Essentially all these “extras” stretch the story needlessly and increase the time spent checking your watch.
The performers in this show are amazing. It is not their fault that someone decided to take a good musical and glob on unnecessary and uninteresting “extras,” like someone cutting and pasting magazine pieces onto an already complete painting. Caroline Bowman and Lauren Nicole Chapman (Elsa and Anna, respectively) are endearing and captivating as our leading royals. Whether you are a child or an adult, you are likely to have your heart stolen by both of them.
Overall, the Broadway tour of Frozen is…ok. The singing and acting are terrific, and it has some really fun costume moments. Still, the added songs just stretch the story so that what should be a magical experience is a presentation oscillating between familiarity and tedium.
Children eager to see Elsa and Anna will have fun.
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Above Average! Feb 1 -19,2023
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