Stage adaptation of ‘Frozen’ fails to build upon source material

Still manages to ‘dazzle’ audience members with effects and live orchestra

Stage adaptations are a great way to build upon a story, and it’s no surprise that Disney was quick to create one for its most successful animated film, ‘Frozen’. Unfortunately, ‘Frozen’ the Broadway stage musical adds little value to the franchise.

‘Frozen’ was a mixed bag. A well-known Broadway stage musical that was also based on a movie is ‘Shrek: The Musical’, which blew me away with how much more the characters were expanded through song. The same couldn’t be said for ‘Frozen.’ ‘Frozen’ is already a musical, so there isn’t a whole lot to change after all. Unfortunately, the plot is no different, as everyone has seen the movie and knows how it goes, and there are only a handful of new songs.

International Student Services arranged for a group of students to see a performance. Unfortunately, our seats were in the far back of the theater. Even a child sitting behind me complained about how tiny the actors are. I heard a lot of loud children throughout the show and my chair was often kicked. Beware the target audience.

Ironically, I thought that Anna and Hans had really good chemistry. ‘Love Is An Open Door’ was easily my favorite song in the show because of how in-sync the actors were together. I generally didn’t like the other songs – they felt simplified.

Without the freedom of animation to hide behind, capturing the occasional randomness of the show was difficult. Olaf’s song, ‘In Summer’, had more charm in the film than the musical because the movie had flashing backgrounds and instant setting-changes that Broadway simply could not easily pull off.

Olaf was a puppet controlled by a man dressed in winter clothes, and didn’t feel as cute as the original Olaf; if anything, Broadway Olaf felt frightening. Simply put, the show wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t dazzling — with one exception: the effects.

The effects were jaw-dropping: wind would blow through the actors’ coats, and their gloves went flying. Elsa summoned large spears of ice. The actors even went as far as to act like they were slipping on the ice.

The show also really came into its own, musically, courtesy of the amazing chamber orchestra, which really made the songs come to life and made every song hit with the exact emotion they were going for.

Most notably, during Elsa’s famous song, ‘Let it Go’, Elsa’s dress changed before the audience’s eyes from her purple dress to her shining, sparkling ice dress, sending the audience wild with applause.

During the intermission, I ventured out, seeking answers. Bathrooms were packed during the intermission and the line for the ladies room on the first floor wound to the second floor. I twisted and snuck through many groups of people to ask for help from a woman who was an usher, and she directed me to the soundbooth. There, I found the man behind the effects.

He said a lot of the effects are video, as there are 75 million pixels through four projectors, one located on a balcony. Elsa’s ice effects required smoke and 189 liters of liquid carbon dioxide for one show. Automated machines helped with wind effects and such. Most of all, I wanted to know how Elsa’s dress changed in an instant. When I asked that, he smiled, looked me dead in the eye and answered, “Disney magic.”

After the show, all of the ISS group members were very satisfied and spoke about it the whole car ride long. All and all, despite the repetitious story, If there’s one thing Disney knows how to do, it’s leave their audience with big smiles on their faces. That dress change is going to keep me up at night, though.