Monday, October 26, 2020

Recent Performances of Disney’s Frozen JR Ramped up the Temperature to Sizzling


Photos by Jory Westberry & Pattie Ziesig
Back Row L to R: Westleton/King Agnarr (Tyler Mastrangelo), Unknown, Queen Iduna (Alexis Borduas), Unknown, Pabbie (Elizabeth Hobbs). Front Row L to R: Queen Elsa (Kira Swanson), Anna (Emma Mastrangelo), Olaf (Sloan Wheeler).

Disney’s “Frozen JR.” was recently performed by the Island Theater Company at the Marco Lutheran Church, and they were far from stiff, cold or shivery. In fact, the characters and chorus sparkled with spirit and warmth throughout the play.

Directed by experienced thespian/director Pat Berry of the Island Theater Company, the matinee and evening performances were held on November 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th, and 10th. The rehearsal schedule was rigorous considering that most of the actors were middle school and high school students. They had to dedicate themselves to their responsibilities at school to keep up with those demands, memorize their lines, learn the choreography, songs, and the staging; which for many scenes was tricky.

Wanting to take photos of the performance, I chose a seat close to the front of the stage, only to find out that no photos were allowed! What? It was explained to me later that Disney is the most stringent of production companies and that there are about 7 pages of rules that theater companies must follow to be able to perform the Disney Musicals, and they certainly didn’t want to take chances with violating their contract. So, the photos included were taken after the performance, but include some of the main characters.

The performance opens in pitch black with the chorus singing in the castle in the Kingdom of Arendelle. Young sisters, Anna and Elsa, start the show with sibling teasing and an inadvertent display of Elsa’s power; no more information from me on that detail. There are three versions of Anna and Elsa as they grow up and experience the challenges along the way. Young Anna (Bella Oliver), Middle Anna (Emma Mastrangelo) and older Anna (Alessia Pellegrini), all played their roles beautifully and believably. Young Elsa (Kate Anderson), Middle Elsa (Ava Richardson) and older Elsa (Kira Swanson) demonstrated professionalism and talent.

The story, according to Music Theatre International, “is one of love and acceptance between sisters and expands upon the emotional relationship and journey between Princesses Anna and Elsa in the magical land of Arendell. When faced with danger, the sisters discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood. There’s a cast of beloved characters and loaded with magic, adventure and plenty of humor.” I couldn’t agree more.

Music Theatre International provides everything needed to produce any of its Broadway Junior® musicals in a state-of-the-art ShowKit® of materials that the performing group can keep. Of course, there’s a fee to be paid for the right to perform the musicals, but ticket sales can help defray the costs. The shows are shorter than the originals, author-approved, with particular consideration of the developing voices of younger actors shorter attention spans and specific choreography. These shows are so popular that an estimated 25,000,000 have seen a Broadway Junior® show, not to mention the estimated 5,000,000 students who have been involved.



The characters depart the castle in Arendelle and take a necessary trip to the mountains to find the wandering Oakens, the healers. Heal who and from what you may ask? Sorry. The North Mountain is the next stop until finally there is a need to get back to Elsa’s Palace where the drama between Anna, Elsa and Prince Hans reaches into the hearts of all as the crisis is resolved.

Additional characters include: Prince Hans (Julian Totten), Kristoff (Joseph Padilla), Olaf (Sloan Wheeler), Sven (Libby Langer), Bishop (Camryn Mallernee), Bulda (Kacie Swanson), Butler (Elle Richardson), Cook (Amelia Skender), Weselton’s Guard (Giuliana and Daniella Sanzera), Handmaiden (Riley High), Westleton/King Agnarr (Tyler Mastrangelo), Oaken (Lola Green), Pabbie (Elizabeth Hobbs), Queen Iduna (Alexis Borduas), Steward (Mia Winnick), Chorus (Ansley Carmagnani, Annabelle Frazier, Addison Heinrich, Lina Oliver and Gigi Politi), Townspersons (Gracie Johnson, Bradyn Mallernee, Sophia Ogden, Izzy Pozzuto, Addison Reed, Alessandra Sanzera and Helen Totten).

L to R: Sven (Libby Langer), Elsa (Kira Swanson), Bulda (Kacie Swanson), Prince Hans (Julian Totten).

As much as I’d like to comment about each actor’s performance, suffice it to say that the production was professional, the actors talented and confident, the males were dashing and one, particularly humorous Westleton/King Agnarr (Tyler Mastrangelo). Olaf (Sloan Wheeler) added quirkiness to the role, which also added some comic relief. Prince Hans (Julian Totten) brought the combination of devotion and deceit together like a pro.

No production can function without the parents, volunteers and partners like the JW Marriot Marco Island Resort for their loan of projection equipment, Centennial Bank for selling tickets for 9 years for the Island Theater Company, Marco Presbyterian Church for rehearsal space, APM Custom Homes for their support of children’s theater, Jeannette’s Hair Design by Lily Rose, and Sanz Era Bakery of Timeless Treats for sponsoring tea and tea treats for tea with the Prince and Princess.

Not to be excluded for all the intensive work that is done behind the scenes that allows a production to succeed, the talented, back-stage, supporting characters include: Rebecca Anderson, Jon and Karen Anglin, Carl Back, Michael Ballenger, Chris Berquist, Bernie Bogart, McKenna Broxson, James Cameron, Leesa Carls, Debbie Daniels, Cheryl Knudson, John Moulton, Christy Pagoni, Debbie Pinnizzotto, Jori Richardson, Ann Stuart, Dave Tobiaz, Paula Warner, Chuck Watson, Devon Wheeler and Judy Wheeler who generously contributed their talents, time and technical expertise to support the on-stage portion of Disney’s “Frozen JR.”

It’s always so gratifying to see the accomplishments, passion, and spirit that our local students bring to a professional production of this caliber. Hopefully, there will be more performances of this level in the future with all the support our students need to succeed.

Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, original book and Disney film written by Jennifer Lee, and directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee.

For more information, go to Music Theatre International (MTI) at www.mtishows.com

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