Disney's 'Frozen' sparkles in Chicago debut
Disney's "Frozen" -- ★ ★ ★
There's a lot of wowing stage magic packed into Disney's "Frozen," now making a slick national touring debut at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre. Director Michael Grandage's 2018 Broadway musical adaptation of the beloved 2013 animated blockbuster is a wonderful choice for a child's first live theater experience.
But more seasoned theatergoers will find "Frozen" doesn't have the originality of earlier Disney screen-to-stage triumphs like "The Lion King" or "Mary Poppins." And like the 2019 "Frozen II" film sequel, "Frozen" onstage can't shake being a dutiful corporate creation capitalizing upon the original's success.
Tangentially based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," "Frozen" is a superhero origin story mixed with a strong message of sisterly love and devotion. Scandinavian royal Elsa has the power to harness winter weather, but she is initially terrified of it after accidentally injuring her bouncy younger sister, Anna.
To expand "Frozen" onstage, many of the film's co-creators have returned to do respectable, if not instantly memorable work. The book is by original "Frozen" screenwriter and co-director Jennifer Lee, while extra songs are by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
Understandably, their soaring Academy Award-winning song "Let It Go" has been reshuffled to become an amazing Act I finale. This allows Caroline Bowman as Elsa to show off her impressive vocal pipes, all the while designers Christopher Oram (sets and costumes), Natasha Katz (lighting), Finn Ross (video) and Jeremy Chernick (special effects) pull out all the stops to make the number sparkle around her.
Also very impressive is the puppetry designs of Michael Curry, which brings the magical snowman Olaf (F. Michale Haynie) and the reindeer Sven (either Evans Strand or Collin Baja) to smile-inducing life.
Caroline Innerbichler's Anna is a madcap delight throughout, especially when interacting with her charismatic suitors in the ice merchant Kristoff (Mason Reeves) and Prince Hans (Austin Colby).
"Frozen" isn't Disney's best or most daring stage effort. But it's certainly a welcome family show to help warm up and wow vaccinated Chicago audiences this winter.
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Location: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., Chicago, (800) 775-2000, broadwayinchicago.com
Showtimes: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and Dec. 27; (no evening shows Nov. 25, Dec. 24 and 25 and Jan. 1, 4 and 11; different times Dec. 31); 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 31 (no evening shows Nov. 28 or Dec. 5); 2 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday and Dec. 24 (no matinees Dec. 25 or Jan. 1); through Jan. 22
Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission
Tickets: $59.50-$130.50; $166.50 VIP package seating; $25 digital daily lottery
Parking: Limited metered street parking, paid lots nearby
Rating: For all ages
COVID-19 precautions: Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, identification and masks required