Not every Disney animated film successfully makes the leap from screen to stage. While “The Lion King” continues to captivate audiences on Broadway even after 26 years, the 2006 stage adaptation of “Tarzan” fell flat. However, Disney’s stage adaptation of “Frozen,” currently running for two weeks at the San Diego Civic Theatre, delivers an enchanting experience that fulfills the wishes of fans of the beloved 2013 movie.
An Engaging and Faithful Adaptation
The 2018 Broadway musical, crafted by the talented composers-lyricists Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, along with bookwriter Jennifer Lee, remains true to the heart of the story. “Frozen” revolves around Elsa and Anna, two orphaned princesses in a Scandinavian kingdom. Their once-unbreakable bond shatters when Elsa struggles to control her extraordinary power to manipulate ice.
On stage, the story unfolds faithfully, with added depth to the plot and score. The previously underdeveloped characters of the king and queen receive more attention, and an intriguing community known as the magical Hidden Folk in the forest is introduced. The production boasts awe-inspiring scenery, captivating projections, and dazzling special effects. Particularly remarkable are Elsa’s creation of an ice bridge and ice castle amidst the mountains, as well as the ingenious costume design for the reindeer character, Sven. And while “Frozen” primarily targets children, it offers enough humor, catchy tunes, and captivating dance sequences to make it equally entertaining for adults.
Stellar Performances and Memorable Moments
Powerhouse vocalist Caroline Bowman shines in her portrayal of the ice queen Elsa, delivering a note-perfect rendition of the show’s iconic girl-power anthem, “Let It Go.” Lauren Nicole Chapman perfectly captures the awkwardness, exuberance, and humor of Anna, the younger sister enamored with boys. Jeremy Davis brings the lovable and bouncy snowman character, Olaf, to life through his masterful puppetry, dance skills, and delightful singing. Additionally, Dan Plehal convincingly embodies the character of Sven, the lanky reindeer complete with a headpiece featuring blinking eyes and twitching ears.
The supporting cast also leaves a lasting impression, with Dominic Dorset endearing audiences as the heart-of-gold ice merchant, Kristoff. Evan Duff injects humor into the show as the pompous Duke Wesselton, and Will Savarese delivers a sincere and convincing portrayal of Hans, making it hard to despise him when his true colors are revealed in Act Two.
A Melodic Journey with a Few Missteps
Thanks to the earworm popularity of “Let It Go” and the charming duet “Love Is an Open Door,” “Frozen” gained fame for its motion picture soundtrack, which includes some of the most beloved Disney songs. In transforming the story into a two-hour musical, composers Anderson-Lopez and Lopez penned additional songs. However, it is these new numbers that stumble at times. The second act opens with the drawn-out and occasionally incomprehensible song, “Hygge,” a Danish term for “coziness.” Unfortunately, this song fails to contribute to the plot significantly and slows down the otherwise brisk pace of the show.
A Frosty Reception and Warm Engagement
The Civic Theatre’s lobby houses an unusually large “Frozen” gift shop, which saw a flurry of activity on Thursday evening. Many young girls in attendance arrived dressed as Elsa and Anna, truly embodying the spirit of sisterly love celebrated in the show. “Frozen” tells an uplifting and heartwarming tale that resonates with audiences, resulting in a warm and enthusiastic reception during its local engagement.
‘Frozen – The Musical’
- 7 p.m. Wednesdays
- 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays
- 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays
- 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays
- Running through January 29th.
Where: San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., San Diego