Filichia Features: A Sizzling Production of DISNEY’S FROZEN JR.

Filichia Features: A Sizzling Production of DISNEY’S FROZEN JR.

By Peter Filichia on April 19, 2019

Nothing could possibly make a drama club student feel more professional than performing in a show while the original production is currently on Broadway.

True, the Frozen that's doing solid business at the St. James Theatre isn't quite the same musical that's now available to schools and after-school programs.

Nevertheless, Disney's Frozen JR. affords young actors the chance to become Anna, Elsa, Prince Hans, or Kristoff right now. Your Broadway JR stars can also transform into Sven the reindeer and Olaf the snowman.

The sixth-through-eighth-graders at The Woodruff School in Seabrook, New Jersey certainly were thrilled to have the opportunity. Here they were, performing what Patti Murin, Caissie Levy, Joe Carroll, Noah J. Ricketts, Adam Jepsen and Ryann Redmond are currently doing 123 miles away.

The two leading ladies are written to be played by six girls: Young and Middle Annas and Elsas precede their mature versions. However, director Spencer Lau, a ssociate director Tanya Nakai and choreographer John Stephan decided to eliminate the middle-women. Still, getting young Julia DiFilippantonio (Young Anna) and Rachel Salvatierra (Young Elsa) accustomed to being on stage is a healthy start to a long and fruitful drama club career.

Sophia Everingham (Anna) expertly showed the agony of being discarded by the sister who was also her best friend; Grace Frazer (Elsa) displayed the self-hatred caused by a skill she didn't ask to have.

After Elsa almost killed Anna, Frazer cried out to her stage parents (the estimable Luciano Sanchez and Lillian Cruz Garcia) "I'm sorry -- it was an accident!" with the requisite horror. What kid can't relate to that? Chances are that any miscue made by any child in the audience has been followed by these same six words.

Kids who are the youngest in their families will relate to the misery felt by Prince Hans (the dashing Andrew Higgs). He's the youngest of (gulp!) 13 sons, making him pretty far down on the familial totem pole.

A lad's being bossed around by 15 older people day after day can impact a kid's self-esteem. It could be a reason why he's ultimately the show's villain.

One reason that the Frozen film became an immediate hit was the powerful score by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Of course, it includes the Oscar-winning "Let It Go," the galvanizing anthem that all kids know unless they've been living in such frozen lands as the North or South Pole. Frazer put it over splendidly.

And what about the famous quick-change where Elsa goes from a nice dress to an extraordinary one? Shirley Idzakovich did her part in designing two fine gowns.

"How they make the change on Broadway is a well-kept secret," she said. As a result, Idzakovich's smart solution was to have a bevy of dancers in floor-length silver cloaks come on and obscure Elsa while she shed her outer dress.

Idzakovich also had a simple solution on how to costume Olaf (the winning Aiden Yeboah) . A white contour sheet that naturally curled around his knees did the trick.

As for songs, Disney's Frozen JR. includes all but "Frozen Heart" from the film plus six from the Broadway production. An enchanting Isabella Praul (Oaken) and Brendon Pierce (Kristoff ) had fun explaining what "Hygge" is. (The Danish word conveys feelings of contentment, which is what the audience had while listening to it.)

For scenery, the ice-ridden palace was represented by white pieces of scalloped cardboard (think of the top of the Sydney Opera House) embellished with shiny Saran Wrap. Enhancing the production even better were animated video projections that not only showed various locations, but also replicated snowstorms and other moving images.

Says Lau, "We rented them from . They also offer non-animated digital images that cost less."

Disney's Frozen JR 's target market is of course tween and teen girls. Considering what happens to Anna at the hands of Hans, the musical also becomes a cautionary tale about the dangers of so-called Love at First Sight. No one is ever too young to learn that hard lesson as well as that some friendships, however strong they may seem here-and-now, sometimes dissolve. The line "Because it's the right thing to do" reiterates that two wrongs don't make a right. We see that "Conceal it - don't feel it" isn't always the answer.

So don't pack away those winter clothes just yet. You'll need them when you do Disney's Frozen JR. this summer or fall.

Read more Filichia Features .

You may e-mail Peter at Check out his weekly column each Monday at and Tuesday at . He can be heard most weeks of the year on