Disney Frozen Jr – NOW Productions (‘Winter’ cast)

Disney Frozen Jr – NOW Productions (‘Winter’ cast)

It seemed ironic that on a freezing cold night I was going to the Opening Night of NOW Productions’ “Disney Frozen Jr” and reviewing the Winter cast, but due to the Shedley Theatre’s air-conditioning and the performances of the cast I left with a warm glow in my heart.

Going by the number of little girls dressed as their favourite Frozen Princess, Anna or Elsa, in the audience, the storyline of this musical does not need repeating. However, it is not an easy show to put on given the number of special effects that we have come to know with the professional adult version. The Jr version is only an hour long with no interval, but Directors Joe Russell and Lily Cotton and their production crew have done a sterling job of attempting to capture the feel of this atmospheric piece. Their attempts at special effects is simple but effective. However, on the night reviewed the lighting effect mounted on the walls of the auditorium were out of sync with Elsa’s hand movements during “Let It Go”. Hopefully this problem will have righted it self in further performances.

Kudos must go to Kylie Mobbs, Lynda Cook, Belinda Mentha and Renee Swift for the wonderfully accurate costuming of the Principals in particular. Especially the clever Sven the Reindeer costume and the stunning management of magically changing Elsa’s split second change onstage during “Let It Go”. It was very worthy of the applause it received on opening night.

Direction by Russell and Cotton works for the most part. There are some comic bits that don’t quite work either because they are underplayed or very much overplayed, but they tend to be in the minority. There seems to be one strange decision, to this reviewer at least, when it comes to the portrayal of Hans. In this production he is portrayed as a slightly self-centered rock star type, primping and preening around the stage for laughs. It works somewhat as the audience loved his antics but it tends to lessen the big reveal near the end. Hans is the thirteenth in line to his father’s throne and therefore is always overlooked and tends towards shyness which makes his big reveal even more of a surprise – it needs to be a big gasp moment and played with arrogance all the way through, it’s not.

Musical Direction by Robert Young and James Hester is tight but on the night reviewed, the sound levels on the cast’s mics were too high when they sung making some sound too loud and screechy or very hard to understand.

Choreography by Mandy Russell and Molly Richardson was fairly simple but effective, especially in the “Hygge” number which was hilarious and seemed to fill the Shedley  stage and auditorium. But house lights needs to be up a little in this number as the people on the sides tended to be ignored by the audience as it was too dark to see them.

As previously stated, I reviewed the Winter cast.

Estelle Robinson (Young Elsa) and little pocket rocket Lucy Harry (Young Elsa) took our breath away straight from the start. Both looked their parts and were clear in dialogue and vocals. When little cutie Lucy asked “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” it was very hard to not get up on stage and build one with her. As Middle Elsa and Middle Anna respectively, Annie Jurina and Bella Hellawell were equally effective.

As Elsa, Khushi Choudhari is very regal and looks and acts exactly as we have come to expect of the character. Her rendition of “Let It Go” brought the house down with much well deserved applause from all. Alyssa Faranda is the perfect Anna and plays beautifully off everyone she interacts with. There is a wonderful excitement surrounding her but sometimes her exuberance gets away from her just a tad. But she is another one you could happily build a snowman with.

Levi Seyfang, Owen Fagan and Kyle Mobbs play Olaf, Kristoff and Hans respectively in both Winter and Summer casts. As everyone’s favourite snowman, Levi shows great comical talent and not bad puppetry skills. He is long, lanky and very likable. I have a feeling that his voice might be breaking as he struggled slightly with the very last note of his song “In Summer”. But that did not deter from his great performance. Owen Fagan shows very good promise for future leading roles. He is good looking and defines ice deliverer Kristoff well. His deepish voice works well and he also handles comedy well. His is a nicely understated performance. I have reviewed Kyle Mobbs a few times now and am always impressed with his work. Even with a characterisation of Hans that I don’t agree with (see above), he still carries it off with aplomb and hilarity.

Special mention must go to young Carter Penley as the lovable reindeer, Sven. He has the most cumbersome but highly creative costume and manages to work the stage well. Also, I need to mention Meri Wagland who played Sauna owner Oaken. She inhabits the character hilariously and wonderfully. Her Norwegian accent is so good that it is sometimes a little hard to understand, Ja.

With a cast of 53 it’s impossible to mention everyone, but rest assured every one gave it their all.

NOW Productions has delivered another fun show that leaves one humming and feeling good.

Review by Brian Godfrey

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