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BWW Review: FROZEN at Shea's Buffalo

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An Icy Treat

BWW Review: FROZEN at Shea's Buffalo

Caroline Bowman and Caroline Innerbichler

Excitement filled the air as the Shea's Broadway season kicked off with Disney's FROZEN. Adults and children clad in costumes and clutching their Olaf dolls patiently entered the theatre, all wearing their obligatory face masks. Covid was not going to dampen anyone's spirits. The warm Buffalo evening welcomed the slick crystalline production that is sure to charm audiences of all ages.

The highly successful 2013 animated film was turned into a Broadway stage musical in 2018. But the pandemic shuttered that production, as well as the tour. Happily FROZEN has relaunched it's National Tour here in Buffalo, after spending the last month rehearsing it's cast and technical details. Shea's is proving to be an important theatre for such launches, as TOOTSIE and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD will also be rehearsing and beginning their productions here in the Queen City.

Set in the fictitious land of Arendelle, two royal sisters, Anna and Elsa, must cope with Elsa's magical ability to freeze things at her whim. The tribulations cause family strife ultimately separating the sisters. After Elsa's coronation as Queen, the kingdom becomes icy and on the brink of becoming eternally frozen until the sisters reunite. The undercurrents of evil iciness and the warmth of heartfelt love pervade the book by Jennifer Lee, but there is some Disney whimsy added along the way to lighten the story.

Modern Stage craft and projections elevate this stage adaptation, possibly more than any other. Video designs by Finn Ross along with the magnificent lighting designs by Natasha Katz transport the audience in a flash to gusty snow storms, icy palaces and frozen petrified humans. The effects can be dazzling.

BWW Review: FROZEN at Shea's Buffalo

Caroline Bowman

Caroline Bowman perfectly hit all the high notes that everyone has come to expect as the icy Queen Elsa, and capped the first act with the hit tune of the show, "Let it Go." Bowman's statueque bearing and powerful voice was captivating. But the meat of the story revolved around her sister, Princess Anna. The role is full of spunk and goofiness, which Caroline Innerbichler attacked with abandon. Innerbichler is petite and a ball of awkward energy, a true stage clown, that you can't take your eyes off of.

The comedy numbers are true charmers. The beloved Olaf the snowman, played with joyous glee by F. Michael Haynies , is half puppet, half human. His "Summer" song was written for pure fun in the vein of CINDERELLA'S "Ibbity-Bippity-Boo." Michael Milkanin as Oaken, the mountain Trading Post storekeeper brought an endearing Norwegian like silliness to the Act II opener "Hygge."

Handsome Austin Colby was perfectly suited for role of Prince Hans, with his ringing tenor voice and appropriate swagger. Mason Reeves as Kristoff served as the perfect down to earth suitor for Anna. And his sidekick reindeer Sven was a hoot too

BWW Review: FROZEN at Shea's Buffalo

Austin Colby and Caroline Innerbichler

The score by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez is often catchy, full of varied styles and fleshed out with some fabulous choral singing. The team has proven they can write a power ballad as well as a full on love duet, like the tricky "Love is an Open Door."

The large company danced Rob Ashford's splendid choreography with gusto, often weaving classical dance with a few modern day hip hop moves to keep things current.

Director Michael Grandage has envisioned a beautiful staging, creating lovely tableaus of pageantry and a swift forward propulsion. The costumes by Christopher Oram are lush and varied, from shimmering to plush. The opulent production never failed to disappoint, and is filled with the perfect amount of that magic that Disney does so well.


FROZEN runs through September 24, 2021 at Shea's Buffalo Theatre. Contact sheas.org for more information.


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