(Photo: Allison Upchurch)
Taking the magic and wonderment of the highest grossing animated movie of all time and putting on the Broadway stage is no simple task. But that’s what Disney has set out to do with their 2013 hit animated movie, Frozen. And lucky for the folks in Denver, the show is having its preview run at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts before officially premiering on Broadway in New York City.
Frozen is the story of two princesses of the fictional Norwegian kingdom of Arendelle. The eldest sister Elsa is crowned queen but runs away when her magical powers -- the ability to conjure up ice and snow -- are revealed to the kingdom and causes an eternal winter. From there, it’s up to the younger sister Anna, mountain man Kristoff, his sidekick reindeer Sven, and the jolly snowman Olaf to find Elsa and restore the weather and the kingdom.
The visual elements of the show, from the costumes to the staging and set designs, all take inspiration from the original movie to garner a sense of familiarity. At the same time, the production makes it clear that this is a new version of the story because of the elements of on-stage projections and puppetry that evoke a sense of realism as if the story is real and playing out in real time right before your eyes.
Songs from the original movie like “Let it Go,” “In Summer,” and “Love is an Open Door” are all featured in this production, plus 12 brand new songs written by the original songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. These new songs include the childlike joy of “A Little Bit of You,” the sassy duet of “What Do You Know About Love,” and the haunting power ballad of “Monster.”
One aspect of this show that differentiates from the movie version is the trolls. In this stage version, these characters are called the Hidden Folk, a nomadic tribe of people with magical healing properties. The tribe’s leader, Pabbie, acts as a guide to this story, which is different from a narrator because his commentary offers insight into what the characters are feeling and how their dynamics are shaping the larger story. Each of the main characters at one time or another have concerns about the physical or mental well-being of the people they love. Only through constant care and love do these characters become better versions of themselves.
Frozen is playing at the Buell Theater at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts until October 1.