© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bob Goepfert Reviews "Frozen" At Proctors

Caroline Bowman as Elsa and Caroline Innerbichler as Anna
Matthew Murphy
Caroline Bowman as Elsa and Caroline Innerbichler as Anna

Nobody is better than Disney at turning a beloved animated film into a live theater experience. Just think of “The Lion King” or “Beauty and the Beast.”

The Disney musical, “Frozen” which is at Proctors in Schenectady through Sunday offers a lot to enjoy. It has eye-popping technical support, a talented cast and a pleasant score, but it’s doubtful this stage version is going to become a classic of the stage.

But it’s not for lack of trying. The production of “Frozen” that is playing at Proctors before heading out on its national tour, is a visually spectacular production. The amazing special effects, the superb lighting and beautiful costumes make attending the musical, an exciting experience.

Indeed, during the first act finale, the regal Elsa’s mystical powers turns the stage into a foreboding, crystalized Ice Palace. Adding to the excitement is that the breathtaking scene includes one of the most dazzling costume changes imaginable. All this happens while Elsa, who has the power to turn the world to ice, sings the musical’s anthem “Let It Go.” It’s really great stuff.

It also signals what is right and what is less-right with the musical.

While the enchanting Caroline Bowman did her diva turn as Elsa, I was thinking how much the moment reminded me of ”Defying Gravity, the closing number of the first act of “Wicked,” another musical where a strong female decides to take control of her destiny.

While the “Frozen” scene is spellbinding, it almost overloads the senses. Enough so, that its power takes you out of the moment rather than involving you in the character’s emotional state. It overwhelms and dazzles rather than provokes.

This might sound like a critic’s quibble. Indeed, an argument could be made that the scene is so powerful, few will care that it’s essentially a superficial moment. Nonetheless, the lack of emotional authenticity is something that permeates the work, and cumulatively it mars the show. We know who the characters are supposed to be, but rarely do we connect with them beyond a shallow level. It is a flaw that keeps a good piece of entertainment from becoming great theater.

However, for those who prefer theme-park entertainment, “Frozen” will not disappoint. It is a feast for the eyes that includes a cute puppet (complete with an onstage puppeteer), an adorable and ingeniously designed human-operated reindeer. There are good guys and bad guys and sisterly love. Too, the performers are excellent building personable characters with only the faintest help from by a thin book.

Elsa is properly impervious, yet Bowman is able to suggest a woman who craves love and affection. As Anna, Caroline Innerbichler is perky and charming and possesses great comic energy. Austin Colby is a charismatic Hans, the insincere Prince who manipulates Anna. Mason Reeves projects virtue as the lowly but loyal Kristoff, a man who genuinely loves Anna.

The score is serviceable but with the exception of “Let it Go” and “For the First Time in Forever,” few songs will wormhole into your brain. “I Can’t Lose You” is a strong number, and is so well presented, it makes you wonder why it is the only major duet between the sisters.

Most of all the story needs a clearer, more honest through line. Some logic in the plotting would help considerably. But despite its flaws, “Frozen” is so rich in spectacle that it will offer fun for almost everyone.

“Frozen” at Proctors, Schenectady through Sunday. For tickets and schedule information at 518-346-6204 or proctors.org

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

Related Content