Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN at North Little Rock High School Performing Arts Center

NLRHS Theatre Arts Department proves that Love is an Open Door with this Community inclusive cast

By: Nov. 26, 2023
Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN at North Little Rock High School Performing Arts Center

Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN at North Little Rock High School Performing Arts Center

The North Little Rock High School Theatre Arts Department, 101 W 22nd Street, in North Little Rock, made history when they became the first theatre in Arkansas to be given the rights to produce the Broadway version of DISNEY’S FROZEN November 9-12. After a grueling process where they were chosen by a panel of judges from Music Theatre International, the Educational Theatre Association, and Disney, this amazing troupe of thespians planned, practiced, and then executed beautifully to an auditorium full of appreciative Arendelle lovers. 

Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN at North Little Rock High School Performing Arts Center
Photo Credit: Brandon Eells

With Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez, Book by Jennifer Lee, Directed by Wyatt Hamilton, and Choreographed by Christen Pitts, the NLRHS team transformed their stage into a winter wonderland and brought our favorite characters to life. Young Anna (Reagan Lipsey) and young Elsa (Zynlee Anderson) have a magical life living in their castle until Elsa’s real magical frozen powers accidently hit Anna in the head. Their parents King Agnar (Zechariah Williams) and Queen Iduna (Laney Deal) rush Anna to the trolls Pabbie (Jackson Ray) and Bulda (Jerzey Banks), who heals Anna but takes away memories of Elsa’s powers. The girls become isolated in the castle, and then tragedy hits when their parents are killed while on a mission to heal Elsa of her powers. The Bishop (Emilea Derden) vows to keep the King’s laws until Elsa becomes of age to become queen.

Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN at North Little Rock High School Performing Arts Center
Photo Credit: Brandon Eells

When it is time for coronation, older Elsa (Evanee Dra’a Dokes) and older Anna (Lily Hirscheider) welcome the townspeople into the castle. During the celebration, they meet Weselton (Walt Wenger) and Hans (Paxton Bowsman), and Elsa uses her powers which scares everyone. She runs away, and Anna chases after her. While on the search for her sister, Anna meets Kristoff (Alex Self), Sven (Skylar Acebedo), Olaf (Jordan Bethell), and Oaken (Cooper Petit). Though there are a lot of events that happen that I’m leaving out, basically, the sisters reunite, Elsa learns to control her powers, and they live happily ever after. 

Before the show, I was able to talk with Director Hamilton about how awesome it was that they were chosen to be the one in Arkansas to take on this technically challenging wonderment.  

Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN at North Little Rock High School Performing Arts Center
Photo Credit: Brandon Eells

“Ok, so they came back in September and announced that we were the school,” Hamilton said. “I want to say that there were about 700 schools nationally that applied for the program. We got really excited thinking ‘this is gonna be great’ and ‘Oh my God look what we did’ and all of this kind of cheering and rah rah, and then we started looking at the script, and we went ‘so how are we gonna do this?’ This is a huge show. It really is technical. I mean there's a moment where she throws her glove, and it flies through the air. There are all the freezing effects, and the big costume change for Elsa during the middle of a song.” 

Director Hamilton was right. This was a big undertaking, and it took everyone working together to make it work, and they did an amazing job. One of the young girls in the audience exclaimed, “Did you see her glove float in the air?!” I love pure theatrical magic! 

Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN at North Little Rock High School Performing Arts Center
Photo Credit: Brandon Eells

The cast really brought you into the story from the time the curtains opened. Reagan and Zynlee lit up the stage as young Anna and Elsa. Zynlee really embraced the seriousness of her role, and Reagan was a bundle of energy. I loved watching the dynamics between the two actresses, and then it was fun to compare them to their older counterparts Evanee and Lily. Reagan and Lily were basically identical when it came to personality and owning their character Anna, and that was the same for Zynlee and Evanee with Elsa. They were all impressive with mirroring each other’s roles.  

Of course, one of the main concerns when it comes to this musical is...can older Elsa hit the notes with ease for “Let It Go”? I am thrilled to say that NLRHS picked the perfect Elsa with Evanee, because she performed that song like she was a real ice queen ready to take on whoever crosses her, all while changing into the gorgeous transformation gown. The whole performance was beautiful! 

Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN at North Little Rock High School Performing Arts Center

Though this is a definite girl power musical, the men in the cast didn’t let the girls outshine them. Eighth grader Paxton was smooth as Hans, Alex’s Kristoff was reactive and supportive with his leading lady, and Walt as Weselton cracked me up so much, I had tears.  

This was an extra-large cast, and they filled up the stage. “FROZEN piqued an interest in a lot of kids. I believe we have 62 kids on stage and then another 30ish students who signed up to be backstage,” Hamilton said. It was definitely a lot, but it was important for them to involve the community in the production, and they made a lot of kids' dreams come true with this one.  

To check out what’s next for this amazing troupe of thespians, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nlrtheatrearts

Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN at North Little Rock High School Performing Arts Center
Photo Credit: Christen Pitts


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