I’m not a theater critic, so I don’t have the credentials to thoughtfully critique any performance. That being said, I love the theater (especially musicals) and see just about every Broadway production that comes to town at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. (My all-time favorite is “Miss Saigon.” I’ve seen it more than 30 times. Obsessive much?)
Just like you, I know what I like — what makes my heart swell or gives me goosebumps. And the Broadway-bound production of “Frozen”, currently playing in Denver, made my heart swell, gave me goosebumps and more. Remember, I’m not a critic, so kindly excuse my rambling review. (I wrote it right after seeing the show on Friday night.)
First, I am not a fan of the movie. And, as a non-parent, even I grow weary every time I hear “Let It Go”, even though the fervor has quieted some. (I can only imagine what parents must endure — probably feels like being “frozen in time.” Get it?) As a result, I had absolutely no plans to see the show. However, my two-year-old niece was all the convincing I needed to get tickets.
Bargain hunters, save big bucks by choosing obstructed or limited view seats. The views are not terrible — just expect to miss some of the action (not much), especially when it’s upstage. We sat second row orchestra and only paid $25 per ticket. The couple right next to us paid $75. You may not be able to sit together, as many single seats can be found. (Our group sat in three different spots for the savings. We just connected at intermission — no big deal.) Note: Tickets are extremely limited, at this point, with best availability on weekdays. The show runs through October 1.
It’s a Disney production, so, of course, you expect loving attention to every detail — from sets to costumes, lighting to special effects and everything in between. And it’s all true here. The production is just as “magical” as you’d think. Deserving of special recognition is Sven the Reindeer, who trots the most of the show. His first appearance drew gasps from the audience and he continued to elicit giggles and smiles from kids and adults alike.
Everyone’s favorite snowman Olaf also makes a memorable entrance about half way through the show and provides lots of comic relief. All of the performances are stellar — with each actor belting out songs with such articulation and passion. (I’m always in total awe of such talent — simply mesmerizing.) The two leads, Patti Murin (Anna) and Caissie Levy (Elsa), do not disappoint, never hitting a false note. (The actors playing the young versions of the sisters were just as impressive.)
As expected, we were all anticipating the musical’s signature song “Let It Go” — many with excitement, others with a bit of anguish. I fell in the latter category. (Before the show, the mother next to me bemoaned about having to hear the song again and feared it would start the loop again in her household.) The theater is often about being surprised, so I won’t give the song’s scene away. However, the performance and set are unequivocally show stoppers. (It ends the first act on such a high note.)
I got goosebumps. When the performance ended, people were cheering and crying. I have a new found appreciation for the song. If you don’t gasp at one point in the performance, you’re not a fan of the theater. Let’s just say, the scene’s signature “trick” will be remembered alongside the Phantom’s crashing chandelier, Miss Saigon’s helicopter landing and Elphaba’s flight in “Wicked.”
The show is even a bit cheeky for the adults. Parents, don’t worry, nothing too risqué or inappropriate. (It’s Disney after all, right?) Opening the second act, “Hygge” provides some cheeky fun (think fig leaves) and more comic relief — all in good fun. In addition, thank Olaf for the more playful lyrics aimed at adults.
Plus, the shirtless narrator throughout received rave reviews from the mommies in my section. (I believe I overheard the term “hunk” more than once.) Again, it’s Disney, so no one should be offended. It just makes it a more well-rounded show for all ages. (Adults will definitely not feel like they were dragged to the show.)
Overall, the show was visually stunning, the special effects were breathtaking and the performances were simply amazing across the board. Denver is so lucky to be part of the show’s journey to New York City. If you can afford it (and if you can still snag a ticket), don’t miss it! It’s sure to be sold out for months, once it hits the Great White Way. (By the way, they’re already selling tickets!) The show is expected to be tweaked along the way, here in Denver.
As a result, the show making its Broadway debut in February 2018 will probably be different — even if just slightly. However, as an average theater-goer and fan of musicals, I don’t see how they can improve upon the show I experienced. (Trust me, “experienced” is the right adjective.) As an added testament, my niece squealed and shrieked throughout the show, as did many little ones in the theater. And adults were beaming, laughing and gasping right alongside.
True blue “Frozen” fans will want to snag the special show merchandise available just for its pre-Broadway run in Denver — hat, magnet, key chain, tote and shirts. (Just be warned, they’re not cheap, but that’s coming from a cheapskate.) Everyone leaving the theater was buzzing about the quality of the show. And don’t think just because it’s Disney that it has to be good. Let’s not forget the disappointing “The Little Mermaid” several years ago, also making its pre-Broadway run in Denver.
From what I recall, the musical follows the movie closely with a few twists and more songs. (Thankfully, the trolls do not make an appearance.) In the end, the story is about the power of love, family and forgiveness. And that’s a good lesson for all of us, with or without Disney pixie dust.