I was never a serious “Frozen” fan. I enjoyed the first movie when it came out six years ago (has it already been six years?), but I did not go around the house singing “Let It Go” or “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” like my little cousin did. She was admittedly adorable.
So, it came as a surprise when I found myself signing up for a school-subsidized trip to see “Frozen the Musical.” Not only was the trip on a weeknight, it was around the time I should have been gearing up to prepare for final papers, projects and exams.
The thing about going to a small school on the outskirts of Los Angeles is that it can become a bit of an insular bubble. I’ve been existing on the same singular square mile for almost four months now. Luckily, Pomona College encourages students to get off campus and take advantage of all the opportunities that come with being near the city. With their list of 47 things to do, students can go to Newport Beach, a Dodgers game and visit the Getty Museum all for free or at a subsidized cost.
I wanted a few hours in the city to feel like I was more than just a student. However, the more popular events often have students lining up before the student government office even opens so they can secure one of the limited spots. So, I bundled into the student government office at 9 a.m. and managed to snag the very last spot on the trip. It was meant to be. I bought my ticket to see “Frozen the Musical” for $20, compared to the normal ticket price of $80.
“Frozen the Musical” tested the waters at the Buell Theatre in Denver in 2017, before opening on Broadway with the same cast and crew to mixed reviews. The national tour officially began on Dec. 4 at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, where I saw the show. I am not a musical nerd, so I must say that I am by no means an expert on musical reviews. However, I was stunned by the quality of “Frozen the Musical.” It’s safe to say that I achieved my goal of removing myself from the world of a student for a few hours.
We arrived in Hollywood about an hour early, the bubbling chatter barely containing our excitement. Coincidentally, Idina Menzel’s star on the Walk of Fame was right outside the theater. There was a swarm of people standing outside the venue as seating didn’t open for another 30 minutes. Bag check was surprisingly quick, and I used the bathroom before finding my seat and settling down for the show with no expectations.
The musical opened with “Vuelie,” the background song during the opening credits of the original “Frozen” movie, before transitioning into the parents tucking young Anna and Elsa into bed. Cue the cutest scene of the musical, with young Anna convincing young Elsa to use her magic to have some fun. With “A Little Bit of You” (and a little bit of me), they build a snowman that has “a big round belly” and, as Anna tells the audience in her innocent voice, “a big bouncy butt.”
However, that’s where the cuteness ends as the song crescendos to the dreaded moment: Elsa loses control of her powers and accidentally strikes Anna. Fortunately, the ice did not enter her heart, and Anna was able to be saved. Unfortunately, Anna’s memory of Elsa’s magic is erased for her protection, and Elsa shuts out her sister to prevent this from ever happening again.
The plot largely remained the same but with the addition of several new songs, such as the aforementioned “A Little Bit of You” and others like the sassy duet between Anna and Kristoff, “What Do You Know About Love?” The new songs added a refreshing layer that only bolstered the anticipation for the musical numbers that defined the original movie.
I couldn’t stop myself from smiling when I heard young Anna singing in her adorable voice “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” That is before my smile turned to heartache at the memory of the close bond that no longer existed between the sisters.
The musical continued on its course, until a scene change was interrupted by a child from the audience innocently asking, “Where is Elsa going?” The child was not the only audience member engaged; I could not tear my eyes away from the stage.
The gestures were perfectly timed with the live pit orchestra that sounded more like a recording. The stage effects dazzled and wowed the crowd as the proscenium arch lit up as Elsa built her frozen castle around her. Magnets and shifting costumes made for shocking transitions.
At the climax of “Let It Go,” Elsa’s dress is literally pulled off her to reveal a stunning, sparkly white dress to the amazement of everyone in the audience. It was only fitting for the ice queen that she is. After being struck in the heart by Elsa’s magic, a dying Anna is finally reunited with Elsa but is dramatically frozen into a grayish-rock color before she can reach her. In the ensuing silence, I got goosebumps as Elsa showed her true love for Anna and slowly transformed her back to a fully colored human.
I was truly taken away to another world by “Frozen the Musical.” There was an iconic element to reliving the hype of the first “Frozen” movie all these years later, but I was blown away by the cast and crew’s incredible talents. The only criticism, that I would not have noticed without my theater friend pointing it out, was the lack of a boat when Elsa and Anna’s parents go to search for answers to Elsa’s powers. Perhaps, they’re saving it for “Frozen 2 the Musical.” See you in another six years for the musical sequel.