Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ offers great special effects for adults, fun story for children

NEW YORK, N.Y. — No doubt about it — “Frozen” can certainly melt a few hearts, especially those of pre-teenagers.

A recent trip to New York City included a matinee performance of “Frozen” at the St. James Theatre.

There was almost a sell-out crowd in the spacious St. James Theatre, which seats over 1,700 people. Although the tickets stated “recommended for ages 8-plus,” probably over one-third of the audience was under the age of six.

The audience included my twin 7-year-old granddaughters, who have seen the animated movie “Frozen” more times than you have fingers on one hand.

The big-scale musical stage version is one of Disney Theatrical Productions. Disney”s first venture on the legitimate stage was “Beauty and the Beast,” which opened in 1994.

In 1997, Disney staged the colorful “The Lion King,” which won the Tony Award as “Best Musical,” and still continues its run on Broadway.

Other Disney productions which lit up the Great White Way include “Mary Poppins,” “Tarzan,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin,” which also is currently playing to Broadway audiences.

As for “Frozen,” the Saturday matinee featured Elsa’s understudy, and the actress who plays Anna eight times a week. Still, some chemistry between the two “sisters” was apparent when they took a joint curtain call.

Clearly one of the highlights occurred when Elsa belted out the Act I finale “Let It Go.” The show’s most popular tune soars to hearty applause and hoots of appreciation.

A 22-piece orchestra plays the score of “Frozen” from underneath the stage, with only the conductor visible to the audience and the cast. Reportedly, the composers have added a dozen new tunes to the movie’s score.

Act II is noticeably shorter, but some of the production numbers clearly do not advance the story of Elsa and Anna’s sisterly solidarity, making the show seem a little bloated in length. With a bit of comic relief and a couple of unnecessary dances by the talented ensemble at the beginning of Act II, “Frozen” has a running time of two hours and 20 minutes, with one long intermission.

While youngsters were obviously caught up in the storyline and no doubt found the entire show charming, more sophisticated adults, perhaps rightfully bemoaning the weak storyline, still get their money’s worth with the magnificent special effects.

There is plenty of Disney “magic” as snow falls — not only on stage but on the first several rows of the audience — when everything quickly becomes “Frozen.” This includes the stage’s presidium arch which suddenly glistens and crackles as it “turns to ice.”

The other colorfully costumed principals and large ensemble excel in their singing and dancing, sometimes aboard a revolving turntable.

One actor scampers on all fours inside a reindeer outfit, playing a very agile Sven. So I wasn’t the only one who wonders that if an actor can portray a reindeer, why does the snowman Olaf have to be a three foot high puppet attached to the feet of an actress? That makes little sense, although trivia fans may know that this actress portraying the comical Olaf is the first female to have landed this role.