Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN CASTS A MAGICAL SPELL at Straz Center For The Performing Arts

Caroline Bowman and Cast are dazzling

By: Mar. 25, 2022
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Review: DISNEY'S FROZEN CASTS A MAGICAL SPELL  at Straz Center For The Performing Arts

"What do you know about love...what do you know about me?" -Anna

"An act of true love will thaw a frozen heart..."- Olaf

For Thursday evening's performance of Frozen the Musical the crowd was buzzing, little girls and women of all ages appeared in Elsa and Anna dresses, and some were carrying Olafs by their side in anticipation of a magical trip to the fictional Arendelle. Like many of us immersed in pop culture and especially here in the Sunshine State where Disney makes Central Florida a primary vacation destination, the magic of Frozen has appeared in our lives in some form or fashion over the course of the last 8-9 years. Since its release in November of 2013, the Disney film Frozen has captivated audiences and families of all ages. From its hit musical numbers to the lovable characters Disney once again created something for everyone. In 2019 Disney released a sequel to the behemoth film and added yet another magical adventure to Arendelle with the release of Frozen 2. Led by an all-star cast of Broadway Legends from Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff to film actress Kristen Bell, Frozen and Frozen 2 warmed even the coldest of hearts and the world of Disney animation has never been the same since, and for that, we are forever thankful.

The live stage musical adaptation of the beloved Disney film premiered on Broadway in March of 2018 at the St. James Theatre. With music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and book by Jennifer Lee, the story revolves around the relationship between two sisters, Elsa and Anna. Elsa inherits the throne, but has magical powers in which she can't figure out how to control. After plunging Arendelle into an eternal winter, she learns that only the power of true love can break the curse and restore Arendelle to its former glory. The Broadway production closed in March of 2020 following 26 previews and 825 regular performances. A National Tour was launched in November of 2019, but as we know all to well, came to a screeching halt and was suspended in the wake of the novel COVID-19 Pandemic in March of 2020. Resuming the tour in October of 2021, Frozen the Musical was ready once again to capture the hearts of audiences all over, and capture our hearts it did. The exceptional cast that graced the Morsani Hall stage on Thursday gave us every thing and more, to mouths agape and audience remarks of sheer amazement, live theatre was back and bigger than it has ever been before.

From top to bottom the cast is filled with heavy hitters from Broadway and around the country.

As Young Anna (Victoria Hope Chan), and Young Elsa (Natalie Grace Chan) both making their National Tour debuts are sisters through and through onstage and off. They capture the essence of true sisterhood and both should be incredibly proud of their work.

As Hans (Ryan McCartan) was exceptional villainous in all the right ways. He was smug and arrogant in every essence of the word. You start out liking him when he first meets Princess Anna, but then find that not everyone can be trusted. His vocals during "Hans of the Southern Isles," and the duet "Love is an Open Door" were wonderful and really showed off his prowess. Ryan McCartan steps into the role for one month replacing the current Hans, (Austin Colby.) Ryan was last seen in the Broadway Production of Frozen.

Kristoff (Mason Reeves) captures our hearts as the lovable traveler and companion to Sven the Reindeer. His number "Reindeer are Better than People" is a wonderful comedic moment, and his duet with Anna "What Do You Know About Love," is simply magical. You feel for Kristoff's plight especially in his love for Princess Anna, and his moments on stage with Sven is the perfect example of friendship and camaraderie.

Sven played by (Collin Baja) is a masterful here. The fact that the puppet is being controlled by a performer on stilts is truly something of athleticism and strength. The way he moves about the stage is graceful and truly captivating. Collin should be commended for his work here.

As the Oaken (Michael Milkanin) was hilarious. Imagine if Buddy the Elf was Scandinavian and that would give you a pretty good assumption to our Oaken here. His number "Hygge" at the top of Act 2 is a great moment full of hilarious lyrics and tight-knit choreography. The visit to the Wandering Oaken is always a joy and great comic relief.

Our Olaf (F. Michael Haynie) is splendid here. They perform with pure magical essence that only a Snowman can have. The moment they walked out on stage, thunderous applause took hold of the audience. Olaf melts our hearts and there is no exception here. Their execution of puppet movements and vocal abilities really makes this a stand-out performance. Their song "In Summer" is a great moment, and they capture everything that is and will always be Olaf and should be commended for this wonderfully magical performance.

Princess Anna played by McKenzie Kurtz is just wonderful. Boasting exceptional comedic timing and a stellar singing voice, Mckenzie leaves it all on the stage and keeps us wanting more. From numbers, "Do You Want to Build a Snowman," "For the First Time in Forever," "Love is an Open Door," to "I Can't Lose You," McKenzie's voice is effortless. She is the perfect Anna and captured our hearts from the moment she walked on stage.

Caroline Bowman as Queen Elsa is hands down exceptional here. No stranger to tackling some of Broadway's most demanding roles (Elphaba in Wicked), and (Eva Peron in Evita) in the National Tour, she is everything we needed Elsa to be. Strong, powerful, encompassing she lives and breathes Elsa. Her vocals are unmatched here and gave me chills from the first moment in "Do You Want to Build a Snowman." Her presence onstage is commanding and she is truly breathtaking in the role. Her version of "Let it Go," one of the most difficult songs to tackle seems effortless and is the best version I have heard to date, going toe to toe with Caissie Levy. Deserving a standing ovation at the end of Act 1 and sending chills over a hushed audience as she sings some of the most memorable songs in recent years is wonderful to bear witness. While "Let it Go," is truly magical and kept me wanting more at every turn, it's the numbers written specifically for the musical that captured my heart. "Dangerous to Dream," "Monster," and "I Can't Lose You," prove to be just as heavy a hitter as "Let it Go." Her moments with Anna in the show are true examples of sisterhood at its finest. Caroline truly "Let it Go" onstage and her turn as Queen Elsa is not only exceptional, but it shows true power and strength in Strong Women. Something little girls and women of all ages can take with them as they leave the theatre, and for that she should be commended, in not only filling our heart and ears with the beautiful music, but igniting our souls!

The exceptional company of Frozen the Musical, Caelen Creaser, Jeremy Davis, Colby Dezelick, Michael Everett, Berklea Going, Michael Allan Haggerty, Tyler Jimenez, Hannah Jewel Kohn, Marina Kondo, Nika Lindsay, Tatyana Lubov, Adrianna Rose Lyons, Kyle Lamar Mitchell, Naomi Rodgers, Daniel Switzer, Zach Trimmer, Brit West, Kristen Smith Davis, Dustin Layton, Tony Neidenbach, Jessie Peltier, Brian Steven Shaw, and Natalie Wisdom truly left everything on stage. From exquisite musical numbers to tight-knit choreography, as an audience you were watching a show you didn't want to end. Capturing the hearts and souls of every audience member, proving that live theatre is back/bigger than ever before, Disney Magic continues to pull the imagination to new heights and for 2.5 hours we get to be a part of something truly remarkable.

Technically stunning and a true marvel to uphold Disney has captured our imagination and took live theatre to new heights. Exceptional performances, exquisite choreography, and a set design that will blow your mind Frozen the Musical has it all. 53,000 Swarovski Crystals capture the light in all the right places and help create a Frozen world that would melt even the coldest of facades. Lighting design that creates the right mood to tell the story, costumes that are hands down the most beautiful I've seen in recent years, and special effects that will leave you breathless, you need to see this show! I cannot give away all of the magic here, but just truly understand the disservice you would be doing should you find yourself out in the cold without a ticket. I close my eyes and still see the world of Arendelle in all its breathtaking magic.

Frozen the Musical and all its magic graces the stage of Carol Morsani Hall through April 3, 2022, with matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. As per Covid Compliance and by request of the tour, Mask are required for the duration of the entire performance. Video Recording and Photography is by law strictly prohibited, and Disney's Frozen the Musical is intended for ages 8+ and is not recommended for anyone under the age of 4. Visit for tickets to this magical engagement that you will definitely not want to miss. "For the First Time in Forever," Frozen the Musical is welcoming audiences back to Arendelle and for their Premiere in Tampa, it was truly a magical evening that I for one cannot wait to see again!



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