When I walked in to take my seat in the Orpheum Theatre last Thursday night, I felt a lingering of magical energy in the air. The much-anticipated Disney animated film turned musical brought families out in droves but especially all the little princesses in Omaha. In fact, little girls were dressed up everywhere like Elsa, you couldn’t miss them. Disney’s “FROZEN,” is nothing short of a phenomenally spectacular production that is easily one of the most entertaining and stunning Broadway shows to have ever graced the Omaha stage. It will leave you absolutely awestruck. “FROZEN,” was canceled for 18 months during the pandemic and its return has been well worth the wait. This is undoubtedly the highlight of OPA’s season, and dare I say one of the best shows to have come to Omaha.
We begin with a glimpse into the past with a travel back in time to Elsa and Anna’s childhood. We get a fully fleshed out backstory on Elsa’s origins and her gift of ice magic, “Vuelie/Let the Sun Shine On.” After an incident with her sister, (“A Little Bit of You,”) we see the progression of her need to “conceal, not feel,” and to hide her true powers. Fast forward to Anna grown up as she awaits the opening of the gates for her sister’s coronation day, (“For the First Time in Forever.”) Lauren Nicole Chapman is spot on as quirky Anna, never missing a beat with her amusing and comedic timing. Chapman’s bright belt is sheer joy to listen to and her acting chops are just as strong. Chapman’s chemistry with Hans (Will Savarese,) is undeniably cute and charming in a comically choreographed version of “Love Is an Open Door.” Under the direction of Michael Grandage, the characters hit the nail on the head in comparison of the original film.
The leading men are also clear standouts, brimming with charm and charisma. Dominic Dorset plays the humorous and down to earth Kristoff, and Savarese is the ever so beguiling princely villain. Olaf, (Jeremy Davis,) and Sven, (Collin Baja, Dan Plehal,) deserve a round of applause with their puppeteering and acrobatic skills.
Caroline Bowman sparkles as an exquisite Elsa. She is utterly amazing with every note she powerfully belts out in “Let It Go,” complete with a lightning speed quick change atop a dazzling ice castle set and special effects that are on par with Hollywood. What kind of sorcery is this? Only the Disney kind, and this caliber of stage magic is unmatched. “FROZEN,” is a once in a lifetime experience. (https://www.speedclean.com/) You’ll catch yourself believing the movie itself is real and has materialized before your eyes.
Chapman and Bowman’s chemistry perfectly encapsulates the epitome of an unbreakable, sisterly bond. Their duet “I Can’t Lose You,” as well as the song “Dangerous to Dream,” builds palpable tension as the stakes are high-Elsa doesn’t want to hurt her sister with her growing powers, but she fears she’ll push Anna away. It’s both heartwarming and bittersweet.
Other notable songs by the Oscar and Grammy Award-winning team Kristen and Robert Lopez include “Hygge,” (unashamedly a personal favorite,) the crowd pleasing “Summer,” and “What Do You Know About Love.” I was also blown away by the climactic finale number and its dramatic performance.
From top to finish “FROZEN,” is an epic performance that takes Broadway to the next level, complete with an ensemble that executes each scene transition with effortless precision. It’s worth every bit the hype. Go for the special effects alone, and of course Elsa’s stunningly bejeweled gown.
A trip to Arendelle is a must-have for family plans this weekend. If you love the original movie and are already a massive fan (kid or adult alike) you’ll be inspired to sing “Let It Go,” when you leave. I know I did.
“FROZEN” runs through April 30th at the Orpheum Theatre