Disney's 'Frozen' musical sweeps into OKC: Here are 5 cool highlights of the dazzling show
Disney's stunning stage adaptation of its Oscar-winning animated blockbuster "Frozen" has finally swept into Oklahoma City for the first time ever, and if you get the chance to see it, don't let it go.
And if you're a Disney fan, a theater devotee or a caretaker, consider this your royal command to attend the elaborate song-and-dance spectacle if at all possible.
Second only to "The Lion King" in the pantheon of Mouse House musicals, "Frozen" boasts many of the hallmarks of a no-expense-spared Disney production: elaborate, high-tech scenic and lighting design, innovative puppets and first-rate performers dressed in lavish costumes made with globally sourced fabrics and adorned with stones, crystals, beads and faux fur.
Nominated for three 2018 Tony Awards, including best musical, Disney's "Frozen" is playing through April 2 at Civic Center Music Hall as part of OKC Broadway's 2022-2023 season, and here are five frosty highlights of the show:
1. 'Let It Go' is even more epic in the stage musical
One of most effective earworms in recent Disney history, the Academy Award-winning anthem "Let It Go" has struck a strong chord with movie audiences — especially girls — since the blockbuster animated film bowed in 2013.
But "Let It Go" proves even more powerful in the musical, where it is positioned as the grand first act closer. Caroline Bowman's performance is pitch perfect in more ways than one, as her fearful monarch embraces her magical ice powers in the solitude of her newly devised ice palace.
The production deploys all kinds of theatrical tricks — from projections and special lighting effects to high-definition LED panels and stage fog — to build her frosty fortress on stage before the audience's very eyes. The crowd at the March 23 OKC evening performance oohed as Elsa conjured swirling snowflakes, ahhed as she raised a curtain to reveal a crystalline castle and gasped as her gloves and cape flew away.
And the fans cheered during the climactic quick change, as the queen's staid coronation dress changes in an instant — seriously, keep your eyes on the stage because it literally happens in a flash — to her iconic ice gown.
Even better, the musical's bright Act 2 "Finale" reprises "Let It Go" with hopeful new lyrics. It starts as a duet between Elsa and Anna (Lauren Nicole Chapman) that builds into a big finish featuring the entire company.
2. The musical adds more charming numbers beyond the film's songs
Originally slated to come to OKC during the 2020-2021 season before the COVID-19 pandemic forced audiences to temporarily "Let It Go," Disney's "Frozen" features the film's familiar songs, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the movie's award-winning songwriters, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
Thanks to Tony-winning choreographer Rob Ashford, the top-notch company and the talented touring orchestra, under the direction of Faith Seetoo, the movie's beloved numbers like "Love Is an Open Door," "Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People" and "For the First Time in Forever" are even more engaging live.
“In Summer," Olaf the snowman's (Jeremy Davis) sunny ode to the warm weather he longs for but has never actually experienced, is particularly fun as the stage suddenly transforms from an eternal winter storm to a bright day at the beach.
But the musical includes several new songs that help build the characters' arcs and move the story along. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" gains a companion piece called "A Little Bit of You" that helps establish just how close royal sisters Anna and Elsa are as children.
Anna's nobleman beau (Will Savarese) gets a charming introductory number, "Hans of the Southern Isles," that gives extra punch to his storyline. And Anna and her grouchy ice-monger love interest Kristoff (Dominic Dorset) spar musically in the new duet "What Do You Know About Love?"
3. The musical is funnier than the movie, but with more dark moments
Although the movie is funny, the stage version of "Frozen" packs in even more humor. Much of that extra mirth comes courtesy the new Act 2 opening number "Hygge," in which chipper shopkeeper Oaken (Jack Brewer) explains the Scandinavian concept of coziness to Anna, Kristoff and Olaf.
But the musical also cranks up some of the darker emotions. Although Elsa's snow monster Marshmallow is sadly nowhere to be seen, the show includes her darkly powerful new anthem "Monster," in which the ice queen contemplates whether she should commit suicide to stop the nonstop winter she has accidentally unleashed.
Although they still get their perky number "Fixer Upper," the cuddly trolls of the film have been replaced with more mystical magic users called the Hidden Folk. They fit the stage show better, especially since it incorporates elements of the film "Frozen II," but the Hidden Folks' strange glowing eyes and intimidating Easter Island head-decorated hideout might creep out some youngsters.
4. The 'Frozen' musical boasts plenty of cool theater magic
The show's stormy climax also gets a foreboding new song called "Colder by the Minute," which leads up to the cool stage treatment of Anna's defining moment of self-sacrifice. Not to give too much away, but the show's dramatic conclusion — much like the stage treatment of "Let It Go" — includes so much jaw-dropping theater magic that it's worth the price of a ticket just on its own.
This theater magic — that spellbinding blend of canny technology, clever stagecraft, relentless rehearsals, meticulous planning and cast and crew collaboration that makes it possible to bring such a sweeping fairy tale to life on stage — permeates so many aspects of "Frozen."
It's in the northern lights and snow showers that seem to leap right off the LED screens. It's in the imaginative puppet versions of Olaf and Sven the reindeer that delighted the OKC crowd the instant they trotted onto the stage. It's in the intricate maypole dance that introduces the audience to Anna and Elsa as children.
For many children, "Frozen" is their first big musical theater experience, and even if you've seen the animated film dozens of times, the stage version does not disappoint. Although my daughters — Brenna, 12, and Kyla, 6, who was one of the many youngsters at the March 23 OKC show to wear her Elsa costume — have been to the theater many times before, they were still enchanted by "Frozen."
5. The talented touring company includes several Oklahomans
Of course, a musical is only as good as its cast, and the national touring company of "Frozen" has more talent than Scandinavia has snowflakes.
Plus, the cast includes five performers with Oklahoma ties: Oklahoma City University graduates Belinda Allyn, Michael Everett and Jessie Peltier are members of the ensemble, with Allyn also providing a regal presence as Queen Iduna, Anna and Elsa's mother, and Peltier serving as the company's fight captain and assistant dance captain.
University of Oklahoma graduates Natalie Goodin, an Oklahoma City native who graduated from Deer Creek High School, and C.K. Edwards, a Tulsa Booker T. Washington alumnus, also are part of the ensemble.
When: Performances through April 2.
Where: Civic Center, 201 N Walker.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Don't miss these 5 cool highlights of Disney's 'Frozen' musical in OKC