Review: Disney's FROZEN Warms Hearts at Fair Park

@FrozenBroadway makes its Dallas debut. Come see the magical tale of sisterly love, sacrifice, and sensational power. Music Hall at Fair Park July 20-August 7.

By: Jul. 23, 2022
Review: Disney's FROZEN Warms Hearts at Fair Park

Everyone knows that Disney's Frozen film remains a sensation among young people, and whether they want to admit it or not, it's a sensation among adults, too. To my surprise, I have never seen Music Hall at Fair Park as crowded as it was on Thursday, July 21 for the second night of FROZEN (music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, book by Jennifer Lee) performances. People of all ages were in costumes, parents beamed with excitement alongside their children, and then there were those like me-twenty-somethings who showed up just because they truly love the tale. Regardless of why each person was there, everyone was smiling, and as soon as the theater doors opened, we all rushed to our seats in anticipation.

This production uniquely uses a screen throughout the show, which is what I first noticed when I found my seat, and I have to say, I was ecstatic. All I could think about was how the screen would undoubtedly be used in the iconic ice castle scene. I was right, but I was also pleasantly surprised by how Finn Ross's video design was intentionally intertwined with the physical aspects of the set, allowing the magic to come to life all throughout the musical. Some productions include various projections to add layers to the set, but FROZEN does this in a way that allows fictitious magic to become real.

On either side of the stage, and also layered in front of the screen, was some of the most exciting scenic (Christopher Oram) and special effects (Jeremy Chernick) design that I have seen. We were able to witness sharp icicles appear as a result of anger, glimmering snow crystals in response to feelings of love, bursts of glitter as magic leaves Elsa's fingertips, and of course, a brief trip to a tropical island as Olaf dreams of warmth. The commitment to the set, properties, and special effects made this tale seem truthful, which is what I had hoped for in the Broadway rendition of this specific film.

Each gorgeous use of scenic design, video, props, and special effects wouldn't have been as powerful without the appropriate use of Natasha Katz's light design and Peter Hylenski's sound design. Matching the energy of the magic in each moment, there were loud BOOMs and later moments of silence, all while blues and reds illuminated the stage. There were a few moments when the microphones of the company seemed too dim to be fully audible, but even that couldn't distract us or dull our excitement. The mood of each scene was completely controlled by the unity of sound and light, and the direction of Katz and Hylenski did not go unnoticed.

The characters in FROZEN all have iconic costumes that the entire crowd couldn't wait to see. I imagine the most anticipated costume was Elsa's gorgeous blue, sparkling dress as she builds her secluded ice castle. However, the costume, or rather fur, that was most impressive was Sven, amazingly portrayed by Collin Baja! I mean seriously, he was amazing. Christopher Oram beautifully designed all costumes, but I did not expect to see such a lively reindeer on stage. It was a joy to see all of the familiar dresses, snow-covered mountain gear, and garb of the mountain people, but I have to say Sven was the most impressive creation. Among the beauty of the costumes was the choreography allowing them to exist in the kingdom of Arendelle. Rob Ashford, Sarah O'Gleby, and Charlie Williams did an exceptional job choreographing the movements throughout the show. Yes, there was lots of dancing, but there were also moments of violence and chaos, and when the company moved as the waves of the sea, and none of these moments would have been possible without the precise direction of the choreography team.

When casting for such a notable and beloved Broadway tour, it's important to reflect the original tale. The casting choices for FROZEN were intentional, diverse, and exciting. Victoria Hope Chan as Young Anna and Natalie Grace Chan as Young Elsa played the parts of young sisters so sweetly and authentically, laying the groundwork for their relationship to grow throughout the play. How they interacted with their parents, King Agnarr (Kyle Lamar Mitchell) and Queen Iduna (Belinda Allyn), was the audience's first look at the loves and losses of this family, leading directly to our first meeting of the two adults the young girls became.

Caroline Bowman exhibited Elsa's mannerisms that clearly reflected her inner turmoil. Her occasional stiffness showed her stressful secrecy, and her elegantly sweeping arms mirrored her mind and heart opening to her sister and people. Bowman's voice brought tears to our eyes, especially in special moments like when singing "I Can't Lose You" alongside Lauren Nicole Chapman as Anna. The contrast of the sisters' personalities was a joy to watch, especially with Chapman's innocent yet witty portrayal of Anna. The voices of these two talented women reflected the hearts of their characters, making the theme of sisterly love evident from beginning to end. As a result of this special love came their special friend, Olaf, played by F. Michael Haynie and designed by Michael Curry. Not only did Haynie's voice closely reflect that of Olaf's voice in the film, but they were on stage acting as puppeteer. I was initially unsure if I would be able to focus on Olaf's puppet rather than Haynie, but by the end, I saw them as one sweet, hilarious snowman who just wanted a warm hug. To puppeteer, speak, sing, and dance at once is no small feat, and no one could've done this better than Haynie.

What's a Disney production without a little bit of drama? Thanks to Anna's two suitors, first Hans (Ryan McCartan) and then Kristoff (Mason Reeves), we had a villain to despise and a sweetheart to appreciate. Without knowing the story, McCartan's charm makes it easy to believe that his intentions are pure, yet as soon as he reveals his truth, it is just as easy to hate him. His convincing performance stole gasps from the crowd, myself included, even though I knew exactly what was coming. Bravo, but you're still not my choice for Anna...that would be the endearing Kristoff. There was something about Reeves's smile that captured hearts, and each time he was on stage with his smelly best buddy Sven, or with his adoptive family Bulda (the fiery Brit West) and Pabbie (the magical Tyler Jimenez) or supporting Anna in her quest to protect her sister, we couldn't help but root for him. I have one question, straight from Olaf, for anyone who wasn't rooting for Kristoff: "Wow, you really don't know anything about love, do you?"

In the midst of the familial and romantic conflicts happening in Arendelle, there were multiple characters who added hilarity and nuance to the performance. First, Weselton, played by Jeremy Morse. This portrayal was spot on, and I was incredibly thankful to see Morse's dance moves in person. Michael Milkanin's Oaken shared his "big summer blowout" deals and had the audience "hoo-hoo"ing the entire time he was on stage. He even said hello to Dallas!

Despite being in awe of the hilarious, heartfelt acting, I had a moment of panic when I thought "Let it Go" might have been missed. If you have this same moment of panic, please know that I understand, but trust me, it is worth the wait. The crowd was electric as Elsa shed her cloak and gloves, little by little revealing who she really is. And finally, at the crescendo, her glittering blue dress appeared, the crowd erupting with excitement. This was one of those moments in theater that you will never forget, and the raw emotion of this moment is a result of the culmination of Bowman's powerful voice and all of the behind-the-scenes talent who made this show happen. Most moments were like this one-exciting, necessary, impactful. However, the movements along with the song "Hygge" had a contrasting effect. According to Merriam-Webster, hygge means "a cozy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable." Dedicating an entire song to this word adds to the heartwarming mood of this tale, but having characters running naked out of the sauna seemed like a questionable addition to the performance. As a young professional attending the show, I thought it was cheeky and fun; as a parent sitting with my young ones, I'm not sure I would feel the same. Regardless, I wouldn't let this brief moment deter you from buying tickets for yourself and your little ones. And don't worry...there are a few other less obvious adult jokes that are snuck in throughout the performance.

When watching Frozen or repeatedly listening to the soundtrack, one may think the story is about accepting yourself and finding romantic love. Although these are other underlying messages of the tale, there is one message that shines above all else-sisterly love. Disney's Broadway production of FROZEN does a wonderful job including all of the moments of loss, fear, excitement, power, and perseverance that we know and love from the film, but the most important moment, and the true lesson from this performance, is when we witness the undeniable true love between sisters. As Anna freezes, the company falls in line behind her, becoming the freezing water that washed over her as she protected her sister, and Elsa holds on to her sister and weeps. This moment was beautiful and heartbreaking, and it reminded the audience that there is no love greater than the love of family.

Whether you are a superfan of the film or you have a little one that wants to be a princess, I encourage you to go see Disney's Broadway production of FROZEN. The show is full of sensational scenic surprises, and it has a message that everyone should hear.


Music Hall at Fair Park July 20-August 7. Purchase tickets through the Click Here. Run time: 2 hours 15 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission. To learn more about the talent behind the scenes, view the digital program.

Photo Credit: Deen Van Meer. © Disney

Director: Michael Grandage


FROZEN North American Tour Welcomes New Cast Members Photo
FROZEN North American Tour Welcomes New Cast Members

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New Cast Announced For Tour of FROZEN Photo
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Photos: FROZEN on Tour Releases New Photos in Honor of National Sisters Day Photo
Photos: FROZEN on Tour Releases New Photos in Honor of National Sisters Day

Disney’s Frozen North American tour released new photos of Caroline Bowman (Elsa) and Lauren Nicole Chapman (Anna), in celebration of National Sisters Day on Sunday, August 7.


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