Willmar Middle School to perform 'Frozen Jr.' this weekend


— Students performing in the Willmar Middle School spring musical have a question for their audience ... do you want to build a snowman?

Approximately 31 student actors will bring to life the characters of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven and Olaf in the Willmar Middle School production of Disney's "Frozen Jr."

"Frozen" is the story of two princesses of Arendelle, based on Snow Queen fairy tale and created by Jennifer Lee, a chief creative officer at the Walt Disney Animation Studio and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

The eldest sister, Elsa, has magical powers of snow and ice, that she tries to hide from everyone around her. When she loses control of powers and flees, younger sister Anna sets off on an adventure to bring Elsa home. Along the way, Anna meets ice salesman Kristoff and his reindeer, Sven, and a magical snowman named Olaf.

The story explores true love and the relationships between sisters. The 65-minute stage show includes all the famous songs from the movie and Broadway show, including "Let it Go."

"It follows the exact same story line as the movie," said Travis Michelson, Willmar Middle School music and vocal teacher and director of the musical.

Performances are 7 p.m. March 2, 7 p.m. March 3 and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. March 4 in the Willmar Senior High School Theater. Tickets can be purchased at the door or


. There is a link to purchase tickets on the Willmar Middle School website.

Students have been rehearsing since January, and doing a Disney show has its perks. For many of the students, this will be their first experience with live theater, so having a show with which they are familiar helps them feel a bit more comfortable.

"The kids know the story; they know the music," Michelson said.

That is not to say there aren't some challenges. For some, it can be difficult to play a character who is different than themselves, Michelson said. The student actors are also having to learn about blocking and memorizing their parts.

However, that is what learning theater is all about, and the students have made great strides over the last several weeks.

"We've been doing really well," Michelson said.

The main cast includes Sophia Haase as Elsa, Sarah Jensen as Anna, Anthony Buzzeo as Kristoff, Peyton VanBuren playing Sven, Judah Van Horne playing Olaf and Jamie Renn as Hans. Emerald Osuna Alvarez is playing Pabbie, Troy Eisel as Weselton, Matthew Lammers as King Agnarr and Elizabeth Lindquist as Queen Iduna. Young Elsa is played by Annika Dahl, and young Anna is being played by Kylie Kowalczyk, while Middle Elsa is played by Arianna Gilles and Middle Anna by Paityn Wolf. Delilah Singsank is playing Oaken, and Lindy Groen is playing Bulda.

The ensemble is made up of Ashley Lopez, Cassandra Solomon, Claire Larson, Eliana Marcus, Ella Arcilla, Genesis Gutierres, Hailey Fadness, Josie Goosmann, Litzi Cruz Melgar, Nahomy Ramos, Olivia Carlson, Patricia Shockency, Roslyn Willis, Sophia Tersteeg and Taetem Geer.

In addition to the actors on the stage, Lauryn Mueske, Drew Lindquist, Ryan Newberg, Ivy Williams, Sam Wilkinson, Eva Berghuis and Brayden Thoms are assisting with the lights and sounds, along with high school senior Sylvia Twedt acting as the student director.

Michelson and Joyce Manning are co-directing the production, with Adam Helgeson serving as music director. Kari Michelson is heading choreography with Neal Haugen on lights and sound, Sara Bos responsible for set design and Neal Haugen doing set construction.

Costumes are being headed by Carol Parker and Christine Lindgren, and Michelson assures the costumes will be as familiar as the music.

"They do a fantastic job just staying true to the costumes we want to see," such as Elsa's famous snow queen dress, Michelson said.

Theater is an important activity for students, Michelson believes, because it gives those students not interested in athletics the chance to still be part of something special.

"Feel like you are part of a team," Michelson said, adding it also gives the actors a chance to grow outside of their comfort zone and try something new. "That is a big part of why drama is a wonderful thing."

As opening night has drawn closer, Michelson said the actors and crew have really started to buckle down in rehearsal, to make sure they put on the best show possible. Michelson invites the public to come out and see all that hard work pay off.

"It is amazing to see what kids can do," Michelson said.