‘Frozen’ at the Pantages: It Doesn’t Have to Be Jewish

December 18, 2019

Let’s face it, there’s nothing particularly Jewish about the Disney musical “Frozen.” Unless you count Idina Menzel and Josh Gad, both of whom appeared in the movie.



Nonetheless, at the same time as “Frozen II” hit the screens this month, the Journal headed to the stage show of “Frozen” at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre.


Opening night of the touring production made it abundantly clear that Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s juggernaut has not lost any of its luster since it debuted on Broadway in the spring of 2018. The theatre was packed to the rafters with both children (including many little girls dressed in Anna and Elsa costumes), and adults.


This hi-tech stage production elicited gasps from adults and children alike, because watching a cartoon come to life brings about its own kind of joy. It’s as though the “Frozen” magic thawed everyone’s hearts. For every parent who has been driven to distraction playing the movie ad nauseam to their children and being forced to listen to endless renditions of “Let it Go,” that appeared to have been magically forgotten at the Pantages.


That’s due in very large part to the stellar performances. And while the sets and costumes are truly spectacular, any great theatre performance always needs to be grounded in the performers themselves. If the electricity fails and the pyrotechnics disappear, is the show still worth watching? The answer in this case, is yes (and there were zero technical glitches).


On opening night Stella R. Cobb and Alyssa Kim took on the roles of Anna and Elsa respectively as children. There’s a lot resting on these extremely young shoulders as the curtain rises, and both girls tackled their parts with aplomb. Cobb, in particular, had so much sass and verve, once the grown up Anna (Caroline Innerbichler) took the stage, she appeared to be directly channeling the character that Cobb had so deftly carved out.


It’s difficult to take on the iconic roles of Anna and Elsa, whose performances by Kristen Bell and Menzel respectively are seared into everyone’s minds. But Innerbichler and Caroline Bowman, who plays the adult Elsa, make these roles their own.


Bowman’s tackling of the biggest song of the night (the eponymous “Let it Go”) had the audience on its feet. And she had to deal with the pyrotechnics, a live orchestra and a quick costume change. She might have been running around freezing the entire kingdom, but there was genuine warmth to her performance.


A new song, not in the film, written by the Lopez’s titled “I Can’t Lose You,” gives the sisters an opportunity to sing together and share their feelings. It’s an incredibly poignant moment, allowing both actresses to plumb the depths of their emotions.


Indeed, this is what stands out in the show. All the characters are truly three-dimensional. Even Olaf – performed by a puppeteer — brings a tear to the eye. Director Michael Grandage deftly balances the powerful, emotional moments with the laugh-out-loud humorous ones. The cast are putty in his hands, knowing exactly how to deliver a line designed to entertain young children, but still pull off the sometimes risqué innuendos for the older crowd.


Mason Reeves bring genuine pathos to the role of Kristoff; Austin Colby is a sexy enough villain for Anna to fall for in the early scenes; and Michael Milkanin had the audience eating out of his hand with his Olaf antics.


The entire ensemble worked seamlessly together and kudos to the production for its color blind casting.


There are a million reasons to go see this production, not least because it’s one that people of all ages can enjoy. Warm the cockles of your heart his Hanukkah season and go see “Frozen.” It’s worth the price of entry just to witness the ingenious way the role of Sven the reindeer is performed.


“Frozen is currently playing at the Pantages through Feb. 2, 2020. Tickets and information are available here.


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