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The Green Room Community Theatre has done it again and by no means did they disappoint! From November's production of Willy Wonka to this month's Frozen JR., childhood classics are a hit for this community. Sunday's performance of Frozen JR. was spot on – and it was quite a coincidence to premiere during a weekend of snowfall!
The epitome of girl power and the significance of an open heart are represented by the story of Anna and Elsa, an ice princess dynamic duo. Based on the film, Frozen JR. tells the story of how Princess Anna navigates rekindling her relationship with her sister, Elsa, after a chaotic outburst traps their entire kingdom of Arendelle in winter.
In this production, the choice for various age groups to represent the growing ages of Elsa and Anna was wise as it provided opportunities for more performers. Furthermore, the quick transitions between younger characters, Caroline Peckham as Young Anna and Vivienne Lane as Young Elsa, and older characters, Quinn Walton as Middle Anna and Zoe Sigmon as Middle Elsa, helped to show the age difference as Anna and Elsa grew over time. I was impressed at how well all the performers portraying Anna and Elsa at their different ages maintained a steady, seamless chemistry. Another notable aspect of the performance was the charisma that the voices of Emma Shelton as Anna, Katie Grace DeHart as Elsa, and Gabriel Beech as Prince Hans carried. However, the highpoint of the night was Emma Spencer's portrayal of Olaf during the song "In Summer." The vibrant sun ball, colorful beach balls, engaging yellow lighting, and a full-sized Olaf puppet attached to Spencer made the entire experience worthwhile.
The use of puppetry to represent non-human characters like Olaf, a snowman, and Sven, a reindeer, allowed for synchronistic expression of music and dance between actor and character! Props master David Townsend made quite the impact with his work. In creating Sven, he used tattered fabric to emulate the mane, a long pole to serve as the body, and a phenomenal paint job to account for the finishing sculpt of the character.
A revolving platform and stage divider, used at the start of the show to represent the door to each character's room, displayed an ingenious split focus design where the audience could observe multiple situations simultaneously. It was a great use of space and time. Townsend also built out the frozen world of Arendelle by using every aspect of the stage, including parts of the floor, carving a hole into a section usually reserved for an orchestra pit. As Queen Iduna (Sophie Turner) called out to Bulda (Azlyn) and Pabbie (Josh Hughes), troll people of the Valley of the Living Rock, the two appeared by crawling onto the stage under a green light as they attempted to heal Anna after her first blast from Elsa.
Referencing Anna's injury during their enchantment to heal her, Bulda and Pabbie mentioned something that I think should not go without noting, "A heart is not so easily changed, but a head can be persuaded." And in a later scene where a similar instance occurs yet again, the two mention, "The heart does not easily let go of its pain. Only true love can thaw a cold heart." Sometimes we don't realize the effects of our choices and how they influence others, and it is not until later that we know we have been subjected to the tendencies of a cold heart. This is a reminder to forgive those who may have hurt you, open your heart, and invite love again, because although it may have hurt at one time, the pain will not last forever. Children can observe and sense far beyond the awareness of adults, and sometimes they carry the emotional energy of those around them unintentionally. With this production being performed by children, it both taught the principle and allowed the opportunity of positive self-expression, which hopefully will lead to this young cast adopting the practice as a habit.
Thanks to John David Brown III and Andy Lominac, the costume choices were unique and well executed. Each dress was free-flowing and enhanced the performer's ability to perform choreography without looking restricted by the material. The blue lighting during Elsa's solo scene, in which she finds confidence in her skills as an ice princess, were especially effective for the appearance of dancers. And Elsa's quick, onstage costume change was quite engaging! Wigs used in the show were consistent with the story – a unique touch included two white streaks in Anna's hair to indicate where Elsa had struck her as a child.
The choreography was yet another successful element for this production. Choreographer Heather Archer was sure to include some jazz steps, a few kickball changes, and ballet glissades to prepare dancers' leaps. The poised nature that each dancer carried was fascinating to watch and made an already magical performance even more of a mystical experience, especially while accentuating the use of their white dance streamers.
Overall, it should not go without noting that the commitment of each performer was evident and proved true the power of passion and purpose. From the synchronized movements, to the harmonies, to the smooth transitions, this production was run quite professionally and the actors, stage crew, ensemble, and dancers all made the experience worthwhile. More importantly, the potential in these young individuals is impressive. I have no doubt that the faces of these children are the faces of change and leadership in the years ahead.
Thank goodness the snow did not stop The Greenroom Community Theatre from sharing this performance of Frozen JR. It was indeed a delight! You should take advantage of the remaining performances by going to see this show. As the finale demands, "Let's fill the world with light and love."
Frozen JR. continues through Sunday, February 13. For more details on this production, please view the sidebar. Tickets and more information can be found here.