Few things in life match the phenomenon that is Disney’s Frozen, the 2013 hit animated film that lodged “Let It Go” into the darkest depths of the subconscious of parents everywhere.
Stagy toddlers shrieking and spitting into toy microphones, messy braids whipping to the anthem of their youth: Now imagine those same toddlers a few years older on the day the cast list goes up for Upstart Crow Studio’s production of Frozen Jr.
Frozen, which is very loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, is the story of two sisters, along with a variety of frosty and antlered sidekicks and a soaring soundtrack, trying to overcome an eternal winter.
It was only a matter of time before Broadway capitalized on musical-theater gold with its own stage adaption of Frozen, eventually paving the way for student productions. Upstart Crow is serving up a youth production Friday-Sunday, Nov. 1-3, at the Ed Ragozzino Performance Hall at Lane Community College.
This is Crow’s biggest show in a decade, with a double cast of more than 80 kids between the ages of 5 and 17.
“I don’t want to give too much away about all of the fun things that we’re throwing into it, but there’s going to be several show-stopping moments,” says Heidi Knight Meigs, the theater’s artistic director.
The young thespians love the show.
“It’s so lively,” says 11-year-old Laura Stanton, who plays one of the young Annas.
“The songs are so powerful, they’re so fun to sing and they’re really catchy,” says 15-year-old dance captain Cheyenne Mennenga.
“This is just one of those plays that I’m going to remember forever,” says Emi Henrickson, a 12-year-old who plays the Bishop.
“I think the story is really captivating because it is about true love, that sister love,” says director Jackie Byers. “The Snow Queen is about a woman who decides she’s going to put evil into the world as a way to deal with her pain, corrupting these little children. Frozen is what if, instead, someone comes in with love and rescues her and brings her back into humanity. It’s a really powerful story.”
Heartwarming sister love stories are not without their hearty challenges, like harnessing unbridled excitement in small rehearsal studios. Costume wizard Janet Schmidt has her hands full with 82 kids, each needing at least two costumes for the weekend.
Fourteen-year-old Crow veteran Audrey Sullivan is especially excited to bestow her magical powers onto the younger audience members.
“I’m really excited to talk to the little kids after the show in costume,” Sullivan says. “I’ve done it as other roles, but now I get to do it as Elsa.”
Frozen Jr. runs Friday through Sun, Nov. 1-3, at the Ragozzino Performance Hall at Lane Community College. Tickets and more info at UpstartCrowStudios.org.