After closing their doors due to financial issues in January, the Academy of Performing Arts is banking on “Disney’s Frozen Jr.” to help get them back in the black, and based on the sold-out opening weekend, they are off to a great start.
Disney’s movie “Frozen” was an unprecedented hit in 2013, earning the title of highest-grossing animated film ever, with total worldwide sales surpassing well over a billion dollars.
On the surface, “Frozen” appears to be just another story in Disney’s princess genre, but there is so much more to the tale. Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen,” this coming-of-age story is about sisterhood, loyalty, and finding one’s true voice.
The fairy tale begins with two young princesses, Little Elsa (Savion Smith) and Little Anna (Chiara Castro), happily playing together. Upon Anna’s urging, Elsa uses her magical powers to create Olaf, a talking snowman. When something goes wrong and Anna gets hurt, Elsa is forbidden to use her magical gift. After the king (Aiden Dill) and queen (Evie McGonigle) die in an accident, Elsa, afraid of her powers, banishes herself to the safety of her room.
Sadly, the sisters only become more distant until Elsa’s (Ella Mae Dixon) coronation day, on her 21st birthday. The castle is a stir with excitement, and the now teenage Anna (Maggie Evans) cannot contain herself. She bumps into Prince Hans (Ethan Ehnstrom), and the two, misunderstood by their older siblings, quickly fall in love. Evans and Ehnstrom heartwarmingly sing the lively duet “Love is an Open Door.”
When Anna asks her sister for her blessing on her engagement to Hans, Queen Elsa angrily refuses. When tensions mount, Elsa turns the whole kingdom into ice and snow. Singing the break-out song “Let It Go,” Dixon sent chills down my spine, as her strong voice impressively filled the theater.
After Elsa flees to the mountain, Anna accepts the help of the solitary ice seller Kristoff (Aiden Varnum) and his loyal sidekick reindeer Sven (Aurelia Stamp). During their search for Elsa, they meet the summer-loving snowman Olaf, who is comically portrayed by Sophie Friend.
Long-time director Judy Hamer and musical director Cody Pimental bring out the best in the 30-plus school-age cast. Even with the multitude of scene changes, they keep the one-hour show tight and moving.
Adam Roderick’s set design is wonderfully whimsical, and one of the best at the Academy in a long time. It has three separate pieces: the inside of the castle, the fairytale-perfect town square, and the ominous-looking frozen palace. Evie McGonigle’s costume designs are highly varied and detailed, especially considering the large cast.
With the summertime heat in full swing, consider cooling down with the fabulous cast in “Frozen Jr,” before all the tickets melt away.
Please keep in mind that unlike past summers, this children’s show does not run through August; it closes July 20.
“Disney’s Frozen Jr.”
At The Academy of Performing Arts, 120 Main St., Orleans
Through July 20
Information and reservations: Call 508-255-1963