Thoughts on Frozen the Musical

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Well, I was able to see the pre-Broadway tryout for Disney’s Frozen the Musical tonight. Here are my initial thoughts as I sit at home and sip a late night bourbon …

Overall I thought the musical was fantastic, Disney has done a superb job translating the story from animated movie to live action theater piece.  Patti Murin and Caissie Levy kill it as Elsa and Anna, with Caissie/Anna being a fantastic physical comedienne.  John Riddle as Hans is such lovable goofball that you forget that he’s the villain of the story until the Act II denouement … the audience literally gasped, as it seemed to come from nowhere ( even though if  you’ve seen the animated movie and you know it’s coming ).  If you have had the chance to see the Disney-park-lite version of Frozen at California Adventure then you’ve already seen Olaf, as he’s come straight over from that version, as a puppet a la Lion King. But the show stealers are Christoph and Sven, Jelani Alladin as Christoph and Andrew Pirozzi  (unrecognizable as Sven) are just a joy to watch. and when Sven tap dances … well … cuteness overload…. The rest of the cast brings their “A” game to the loosely-based Hans Christian Anderson story and Timothy Hughes as the King of the Mountain Folk/quasi narrator “Pabbie” brings a gravitas to his part along with a certain amount of eye-candy … ( you’ll have to wait to see what I mean … lol )

Now for some nit-picks. All-in-all, the first act seemed really rushed. I kind of thought the entire cast might have had to pee they whipped through the story and songs so fast that there was hardly a spot for applause after any of the first act songs.  The Act I closer, Let It Go, really needs another verse ( or two ) as Patti Murin is just getting onto the groove of the song when it just suddenly seems to end.  This being the out of town tryouts there were a few technical glitches in the effects, costumes not flying entirely off stage and having to be retrieved mid-song by the actors and tossed off stage and a missed lighting queue or two, but that’s to be expected.

The second act starts off rather odd, though fun, at Wandering Oakens Trading Post and the song Hygge ( or huug-a as it’s pronounced), with Oaken sounding like a cross  between Tim Conways Mr. Wiggins character and John Sigvard’s “Ole Olson” ( deep cut this ) and the entire cast in a Norwegian/Swedish sauna  doing a “naked”  fan dance with eucalyptus branches.  Again, odd, but rather endearing. This makes the rest of Act II a lot more fun and the cast really seems to come together and the story just flies by, with the ending being kept intact from the film that true-love doesn’t always come from where you expect it.

I’ll be really interested to see how this plays out when it finally reaches Broadway next winter and then eventually comes back to Denver in a few years.  I can imagine a few tweaks will really bring everything into tight focus and Disney will have another Beauty and the Beast on it’s hands … this will run for decades …

oh – and the Denver-centric merchandise is really cool ….

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Into the Woods

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Finally was able to see Into the Woods today ( superb adaptation btw – including Johnny Depp’s Wolf ). But almost a week after it’s release you’d think parents would have researched the flick and not storm out halfway through the PROLOUGE in a huff because it’s a singing/grownup movie with the Disney name attached …

Evita – review

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If you have the chance to see the current North American tour revival of Evita, do it.  This is a wonderful production that speeds along mostly due to a wonderful performance by Josh Young as Che. Caroline Bowman as Evita Perón also does a fantastic job at keeping the show from getting too maudlin towards the end.

Josh Young as Che in Evita 2014
Josh Young as Che in Evita 2014