[wp-review] Frozen being brought to Broadway wasn’t a surprise to anyone who saw the billion dollar haul, can’t get that damn song out of my head, movie of 2013. From the opening credits of animated men cutting ice to Idina Menzel belting out a song that every child around the world would sing – the music was meant for the stage. My niece didn’t know the words to Let It Go, but for the rest of my life I will sing “Let it go, let it go, watermelon, tomato…” in honor of her. It was a movie that resonated with so many. It set the framework for a film like Moana, which I and many agree was better, for female characters who do not need a prince or a male counterpart to save them. True Love was a fluid concept and a sister’s love could be just as powerful as the love of a partner. The film was only 1 hour and 49 minutes. Broadway musicals can run much longer than that and they are full of music which the film was not. As a Disney-file, it was not only my desire, but my duty to view Frozen and report back to the Kimmie’s Corner Clan. Sheila and I attended a Sunday performance because it was July 1st and it was as close to my birthday as we could get. It is a mistake I will NEVER make again.
Before I get into the issues, I have to say the show is technologically STUNNING. The way the lights, snow, ice, dress change, all of it… I had chills, wish I knew how it was done and went HOLY CRAP! I felt and still feel this way about Beauty and the Beast on Broadway when he becomes a prince. It’s a massive undertaking and just like the Elephant that walks down the aisle in The Lion King, I cannot stress enough how visually amazing this show is.
I sat in the front row of the mezzanine, stage right, two seats right off the aisle. I mention this because the seats were expensive and the center was even more expensive. We were lucky to get the seats where we did and when we did. Sheila was online with an early access thanks to our Disney Visa Card, trying to get the best seats. They were selling out everywhere. Personally, I think brokers got in and scooped up all the tickets in hopes of a selling bonanza similar to the merchandise of the film. I saw many empty seats scattered throughout. I would have loved to have a seat in the orchestra, but the bots bought them all up. My point is, if you see an empty seat, it isn’t because the show is bad. It’s due to computers logging in and scooping them all up to sell at a premium.
Seating & Audience Participation
The second reason I bring up my seat, there are children everywhere. If you do not want to see kids in the theater – do not see this musical. I will give Disney credit though, in your Playbill is a list of rules they include as an additional piece of paper. I appreciate that they did this as many clips of the show are being put on YouTube and it spoils the show for all those involved. Plus, why go to Broadway and see it, when you can see the best parts of the show online? It cuts into the actors and crew paychecks. Just like pirating a movie, it’s plain wrong.
Now if you look at the list, you will see everything from no pictures, no recording, putting away your cell phone and no texting or emailing. They want you to be present and accounted for during the performance. At the bottom of the paper, you will see “For younger guests who start to feel restless a live feed if shown in our lobby.” I had never seen something like this before and I sat through The Little Mermaid with a ton of children who kicked, scream and wail the entire show. You want to know irritation, spend almost 400 dollars on a show and have a toddler cry through the entire thing. I accepted the kids talking in whisper voices. They were super excited, but the 2 hours of crying grated my nerves. To this day, I cannot comprehend why the parents brought a child that young to the theater and why they didn’t take the child out. The poor kid not happy to be there and wanted out.
But I digress. Disney understands their market, and gives parents of kids who might talk too loud, have sensory issues or just not being able to handle the full length of the show, a place to go. The entire family can enjoy the live stream even though it isn’t exactly “live.” This is where my Audience Interference Score is .5 stars. I watched children all over the theater be well mannered, sing along when songs came on, especially the ones we all know and love. I heard cheers when Olaf comes out, or when a joke lands well – participation is a very big key to this show. It works perfectly. The biggest issue is the parents who choose to ignore where they are and that they are not alone or in their house. There was a family of four behind me. From left to right was “Dada”, female child, “Mama”, female child. First, the booster seats lift kids up, so expect shoes to be on your chair. When the girl behind me kicked my chair like she was Beckham about to score a goal, I asked if she could please not do that. In fact, I said, “Could you please not kick my seat sweetie? I understand the booster makes you higher, but it hurts me.” Her parents apologized and I thought she would be okay for the duration of the show.
Nope. I was kicked mercilessly from the moment the lights went down until the final curtain call. Thankfully, I stood for the curtain call so it didn’t bug me. I swear the kid was trying out for the World Cup team and the parents did nothing to stop her. It got to so bad; I was forced to lean forward to alleviate the issue. Then there was her talking – in full volume. She was so loud that we lost dialogue in sections. Her parents replied to her in full volume. It was as if they were watching their own private screening of the show in their living room. The rest of us were intruders. This is a significant problem.
Now before you say, Kimmie, you don’t understand. You don’t have children. You should have known it would be this bad. You should have accepted what you were getting into.
I did. I was in a section full of kids. I was across the aisle from kids. I stood in line for the toilet with kids. All of them were well behaved. The one girl across the aisle got so excited when Olaf came on stage for the first time, but her mother told her to lower her voice. I did not see any other issue with kids. I did not hear any other kids. I even heard parents telling their kids they were being superb and could get ice cream after – it was in the middle of a heat wave. My point is, I saw parents doing the best they could. The ones behind me did nothing. They could have removed the children to the lobby. The ONLY time they tried to stop their one daughter from talking so loud was when I mumbled, “Shut up already” and shifted in my seat along with my wife. It was about 15 minutes before the end of the performance. I had had enough. After the show, I wanted to ask them why they acted so horribly, but surprise – they were gone once the show ended. They didn’t wait. It was then that I heard others complain about their poor behavior. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone in my displeasure.
Why Bring All This Up?
Truthfully, so that you know what you are getting into and don’t stay silent like me. I should have said something during intermission to the family if not the ushers. I allowed it to happen, as did the rest of the people in my section. We all paid a lot of money to see the performance and Disney provided accommodations – I should have asked politely for them to be more respectful of my wife and me.
What About The Show?
The cast was wonderful. Although Alyssa Fox was an understudy and the character of Elsa is listed first – Patti Murin as Anna truly steals the show. She is tirelessly running around, singing at the top of her lungs and bringing you along for the ride. Her voice is beautiful, but it’s her ability to capture the essence of Kristen Bell’s original interpretation that really shines through. You can see where she makes it her own but doesn’t overdo or try to differentiate the two. Patti allows you to see both and by doing so, you see Anna as opposed to the actor or the previous cartoon rendition. You see a living, breathing Anna.
Now that doesn’t mean Alyssa is not a wonderful performer or that her portrayal of Elsa is nothing short of amazing. She encapsulates the character and binds with technology to bring to life a very complex creation. Her voice in Let It Go is powerful and gave me goosebumps. She is Elsa, but I will forever hear Idina Menzel singing that song. So, through no fault of her own, she and Caissie Levy (the Tony Award Nominee) face an uphill battle with an audience already exposed to the originator of the character.
It surprised me at the change from the trolls to the Hidden Folk. That felt odd but understandable. The song Hygge with dancing people in body suits with nothing but leaves to cover themselves felt very out of place. It was a rather weak opening for the second act and somewhat offputting. Sure, they were in full bodysuits, but for a show aimed at families – it felt like a step too far.
Sven is a man in a reindeer costume – loved him. He says nothing, but the actor’s movements make him a very real and effective part of the cast. He has responses to questions with his head motions or body reactions. It’s ingenious and rather intuitive.
Kristoff… Jelani Alladin, he has a wonderful voice. He captured the character from the film in a good way. The problem is, he captured the film character in a good way. I kept looking at him going, okay make it your own. He’s a talented man, who I think is holding back when he stands on stage. Just like Patti and Alyssa, people have a preconceived notion of Kristoff. I felt like he was forcing his voice to sound like Jonathan Groff instead of being himself. It kept throwing me off.
The show is short. The show is visually stunning. The show has a core group of understudies more than capable of taking up the mantle – like Alyssa for Caissie. There is so much to love about it. The music will be sung on the way home – mostly Let It Go, but I was singing Monster. The ice showing up all over the walls and ceiling, snow falling around, it is an immersive show. The biggest thing it has going for it is the already exposed audience. They have children and parents willing to shell out a lot of money to see it. That is also the biggest downfall. Broadway is an older audience because of cost. When you toss them together, you might have a wonderful time or you might have one marred by discontent. Part of me wants to see it again to catch what I missed, but I risk the same issue I had before. There is no guarantee and that makes this show a night show only. Hopefully, a late night show removes a good chunk of the issues I had from an unruly family.