The magic of Disney has iced the stage at Orange County’s Segerstrom Center for the hit musical “Frozen,” swirling together talented leads, musical variety, humor, danger, and inventive staging to create a snowstorm of fun—a hygge (cozy contentment) experience of the more entertaining kind.
Closely based on the 2013 animated film (also written by Jennifer Lee), “Frozen” portrays the bond between Nordic princess sisters Elsa and Anna and how—beyond even Elsa’s magical ice-producing ability—the power of pure love can melt the frostiest of situations.
Caroline Bowman continues in the role of Elsa, as she had pre-pandemic in 2019, bringing her formidable vocal talent and powerful stage presence to infuse the now iconic anthem, “Let It Go” with palpable feeling.
Bowman embodies the solemn Elsa with her stately demeanor and blonde braid (hair design by David Brian Brown), with gowns (costuming by Christopher Oram) magically transforming her from demurely regal to sparkly ice-queen when Elsa finally lets her powers shine.
Younger sister Anna, played with gusto by Lauren Nicole Chapman, is Elsa’s polar opposite—gregarious and rambunctious, but naïve, having been cloistered in the castle and sheltered from the truth of Elsa’s powers, ostensibly for her own protection.
Chapman infuses joy and humor into all of Anna’s songs, in a variety of musical styles (music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez), from “For the First Time in Forever” about the castle gates opening to the upbeat “Love is an Open Door” with new beau Hans (a charming Will Savarese). Their energetic dance number during the latter song (choreographed by Rob Ashford) is a highlight of the first act.
Also impressive is Aria Kane as Young Anna in certain performances (alternating with Saheli Khan). Kane is bright, sprightly, articulate, and vocally talented playing Anna goading Young Elsa (Sydney Elise Russell, alternating with Mackenzie Mercer) to secretly make it snow in “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
Resulting snowman Olaf—without whom any rendition of “Frozen” would not be complete—is a hysterical novelty, his puppet form (by Michael Curry) voiced and operated with comic timing by Jeremy Davis. Olaf’s final belting of “In Summer” will infuse your spirit with warmth.
The entire cast—ranging from Kristoff (Dominic Dorset) and his reindeer Sven to the magical “hidden folk” Pabbie (Tyler Jimenez) and Bulda (Taylor Marie Daniel)—does well with the range of songs and choreography. However, perhaps due to acoustics, it’s difficult to discern some of the lyrics in ensemble numbers like the cute and lively “Fixer Upper” and suspenseful and dramatic “Colder by the Minute.”
But staging is captivating throughout—with creative scenic design by Oram, lighting by Natasha Katz, video by Finn Ross and special effects by Jeremy Chernick—evoking Elsa’s ice castle, the treacherous icy staircase Anna and Kristoff have to climb to get there and swirling snow and icicle shards Elsa creates in fearful self-defense.
With lively pacing by director by Michael Grandage and a full touring orchestra directed by Faith Seetoo, “Frozen” is a delightful escapade full of singing, dancing, thrilling adventure and near-death experiences balanced by humor and a dose of hygge. As storeowner Oaken (Jack Brewer) sings, “Hygge is alcohol,” among other happy-making things.
While younger children won’t do well with the more than two-hour run time, older children may enjoy experiencing one of their favorite films as live theatre in an adult way—a potentially magical and transformative experience in itself.
“Frozen” continues at the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, through Feb. 19. Tickets are $49 to $179 for performances Tuesday through Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at SCFTA.org or by calling the box office at (714) 556-2787. Run time is 2 hours and 30 minutes, including intermission. Masks are optional.