By Denee Stewart Freeman
Prepare for the winter cold this June! Disney’s Frozen Jr. has come to Nashville Children’s Theatre’s Summer Drama School! (June 21 and 22, 2019)
Following last year’s successful Junior Artists Production of Disney’s High School Musical Jr., actors ages 10-14 are working hard to tell the story of sisters Anna and Elsa. After three weeks of learning blocking as well as mastering melodies, harmonies, and dance moves, these young actors are ready to bring Arendelle alive at NCT’s Ensworth High School satellite campus.
The youth have been led, coached, and encouraged on all levels by an experienced and talented team. Musical director, Catherine Birdsong, choreographer, Rona Carter, and director, Shawn Knight have worked on four NCT Junior Artists Productions together, and they understand how to support the campers who are learning about performing while also supporting one another.
Having never seen the movie or Broadway show, Carter was unfamiliar with Frozen, but while preparing, she discovered a decision in Frozen’s creation process that moved her. “At one point in the story’s development, it was planned for Elsa to be a villain, but then the producers received the song ‘Let it Go.’ The songwriters revealed a new perspective on Elsa and the producers realized their mistake - this movie was not about Elsa being evil. She was just unhappy and isolated, and so she turned out to be a hero after all.”
And of course, that decision was well received by those who grew up singing along to the movie with Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. “I really love their passion and enthusiasm,” Birdsong says about working with the Junior Artists. “For a lot of them, this is their first-ever show experience. It’s the first time they’ve put a show together, so it’s really cool seeing them understand some of the skills and nuances that we, as professional actors, have been doing for years.”
Knight echoes these sentiments and hopes the young artists gain confidence from what may be their first theatre experience. “I hope they get a sense of just how much they’re capable of doing…. They may want to do things, but I don’t know that they always believe they can. And then they do one of these shows, and they can see what they’re able to accomplish.”
Based upon the 2013 Disney film inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen tale, the much-anticipated Frozen musical opened on Broadway in 2018. That production added new songs to the story, allowing audiences to get to know more about the characters within Frozen.
While running only an hour long, Frozen Jr. still retains all the whimsy and drama of the full-stage production, keeping songs like “Love is an Open Door” and “Let it Go” and maintaining that spirit with the new Broadway numbers. The opening song, “Let the Sun Shine On,” is full of color and cheer as maypoles and ribbons fill the stage, and “Hygge” features the pleasantly-content Oaken family known for their store’s “Big Summer Blow Out!”
So what to expect from the show? Fabulous sets, wonderful costumes, and big dance numbers like “Fixer Upper,” and to some people’s surprise, “Let it Go!” “‘Let It Go’ is massive!” Carter says, and Knight explains, “[the song] is a solo in the movie, but has been turned into a large choral number for the play.” There are only two opportunities to enjoy all this talent and energy.
Performances are June 21st at 7pm and June 22nd at 2pm in the Ensworth High School Theater, at the Devon Farms Campus, 7401 TN- 100. Call the NCT box office at 615-252-4675 for more information and to reserve your tickets, or visit nashvillect.org