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‘Frozen’ Review: A Captivating Musical That Will Melt Your Heart

Caroline Bowman as Elsa in FROZEN North American Tour.
Caroline Bowman as Elsa in FROZEN North American Tour. By Courtesy of Deen van Meer
By Makenna J. Walko, Contributing Writer

“For the first time in forever, there’ll be magic, there'll be fun,” sings Princess Anna of Arendelle in one of “Frozen”’s most famous ballads, “For the First Time in Forever.” The show’s leading lady is describing her dreams of finding romance and adventure at her sister’s coronation ball, but the lyric is just as applicable to a night watching “Frozen” at the theater.

“Magic” and “fun” are exactly the words to capture the Broadway reimagining of Disney’s familiar family favorite, whose North American Tour runs at the Citizens Bank Opera House through Nov. 12, directed by Michael Grandage. The show follows a nearly identical plot to the film: Born with unpredictable ice powers beyond her control, Elsa (Caroline Bowman) isolates herself from the world until her Coronation Day, when she accidentally reveals her magic and buries the kingdom in an endless winter. Her younger sister, Anna (Lauren Nicole Chapman), sets out to find Elsa and convince her to restore summer, accumulating new friends along the way.

From its talented and energetic cast to its soaring musical ballads, “Frozen” lives up to the wonder of its cinematic inspiration and at times even surpasses it. Chapman brings an effervescent warmth to the role of Anna, while Bowman’s vocal prowess adds conviction and emotional poignancy to Elsa’s journey from frigid reserve to self-acceptance and liberation. Bowman especially shines in some of the show’s most dramatic numbers: a new addition, “Monster,” and fan favorite “Let it Go,” which lands with just as much impact as it did in the movie.

The show retains other beloved songs from the movie as well, such as “In Summer,” performed with flashiness and fun by Jeremy Davis as Olaf. Anna and her love-at-first-sight, Prince Hans (Preston Perez), make a splash with “Love Is an Open Door,” a dance number that leverages Perez and Chapman’s chemistry to take the lively and light-hearted classic to a new level.

“Frozen” also introduces new musical numbers with varying success. “Hans of the Southern Isles” gives Hans his much-needed moment in the sun, and “What Do You Know About Love?” lends nuance and tension to Anna and Kristoff’s relationship. But other additions, like “Hygge,” don’t mesh quite as seamlessly. A jarring and borderline bizarre diversion from the rest of the musical’s setting, plot, and tone, “Hygge” seems like a scene plucked from another show and dropped, half-thawed, into Arendelle. However, the show ultimately capitalizes on the opportunity to bring a fresh dimension to the story, weaving in Easter eggs for fans of the film’s sequel, “Frozen II,” and even slipping in some jokes for the more mature crowd. In this sense, it is a show for the whole family: From the littlest princesses clad in icy blue and eager to sing along to “Let it Go” to parents who are sure to have seen the film half a dozen times, there’s something for everyone to love.

Of course, any evaluation of the musical would be incomplete without a tribute to the remarkable special effects that infuse it with its magic. From the snowflakes that materialize whenever Elsa summons her powers to Anna’s tragic transformation into pure ice at the show’s end, there is a breathtaking illusion in almost every scene. Perhaps the most compelling example of the show’s technical genius is Elsa’s costume quick change at the end of “Let it Go,” which will leave audience members scratching their heads for days.

But, while the special effects are astonishing, the show’s most successful element is its attention to detail. Gorgeous costumes carefully attuned to each character, intricate sets that bring the kingdom of Arendelle to life, and the use of precise lighting choices — warm lighting to highlight Anna’s bubbly personality and cool lighting to capture Elsa’s repressed emotions — are just a few examples of the well-developed background elements that make the show truly spectacular.

Overall, the North American Tour of Disney’s “Frozen” is a fabulous theatrical spectacle for all ages, a heart-warming celebration of love, family, and self-acceptance that is visually and musically stunning. One disclaimer, though: Be prepared for “Let it Go” to play on a loop in your head all night long.

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