“Frozen” – ASU Gammage

Theater Review – March 1, 2023


Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Another Walt Disney animated feature being transformed into a Broadway musical didn’t bode well for the local “Frozen” premiere. But, wonder of wonder, the stage show is remarkably lush with swirling, turning, and twisting scenery, wondrously colorful costumes, additional music that augments the simple story, and an enchanted production that makes the unbelievable fantasy about two very different sisters a delightful entertainment.

One sister, Anna, is man-crazy.  She is accidentally hurt by sister Elsa’s colossal powers.  Everything is positively resolved by the end after an enthralling ride as good or better than any attraction at Disney’s amusement parks.

The stellar touring production brings a Broadway caliber entertainment to local audiences. The sound system deserves special praise because every word uttered is clearly heard.  An ASU Gammage first!  The only venue negative is that ASU Gammage’s huge stage opening dwarfs the production and side seat sightlines caused some scenic effects to be missed.

The number of young theatergoers in attendance on a school night Tuesday amazed even with the high-ticket prices.  And not a peep out of those kids indicating they and their adult chaperones loved “Frozen.”  A pre-show announcement welcomed first-time theatergoers hoping they will return often.  When a 10-year-old girl was asked about her reaction, she said “I love it.”

The elaborate production moves constantly in Michael Grandage’s staging and in Rob Ashford’s dances.  There’s nothing revolutionary about “Frozen” but it works beautifully as a family stage entertainment.  The cast runs with the predictable story as they sing and dance engagingly.

Understudy Caelan Creaser, an ASU-alumni, nailed Elsa and sang the first-act closer, “Let It Go,” with stylish panache.  Creaser is on her way to a huge musical theater career. Regular lead Caroline Bowman bowed out of several local performances to showcase Creaser.  Lauren Nicole Chapman as the man-hungry sister Anna was everywhere with strong vocals and polished dancing.  She also did an extremely funny “Love Is an Open Door” with Will Savarese’s ribald Hans.  The song-and-dance antics appealed to older audiences but the performed routine wasn’t in the movie.  Dominic Dorset was a dashing Kristoff while Jeremy Davis as Olaf controlled his puppet character with consummate skill.  Extraordinary was Collin Baja as reindeer Sven.

The orchestra sounded fine and the production’s projected visual dazzle moved with marvelous syncopation. The magic effects, while nothing remarkable, still amazed the young theatergoers and a myriad of video effects made the sets even better.

“Frozen” continues through Sunday, March 5 at ASU Gammage.  Tickets may be obtained by calling the ASU Gammage box office at 480-965-3434 or ordering tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade: A