APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – And the audience went “AHHH.”

In the midst of the showcase song, “Let It Go,” the queen’s black dress turns ice-sparkly white. AHHH.

Later, as her frosted sister leading a throng of all-white beings tries to reach the queen, a moment of anger turns the mass into a frozen rock in an instant. AHHH.

Disney’s “Frozen” is something else – a movie turned into a stage musical that does movie-like things, only live in front of everybody, and real people in a full theater go “AHHH.”

It’s quite the experience… an old folk tale done up with the razzle-dazzle of modern stage musicals.

The touring Broadway show is at Fox Cities Performing Arts Center for a 16-performance run that is pulling in throngs. Tuesday’s opening night audience was a show in itself, with many little girls wearing sparkly blue dresses in the fashion of Elsa, the girl who would be queen, and even families dressing as characters. In the upper level, Family Circle, approximately half the audience was children, with many of those being pre-schoolers.

There is a story. For some reason, a girl is cursed with the ability to turn anything to ice. Don’t ask how or why. This is make-believe. The girl, Elsa, accidentally zaps her younger sister, Anna, who is barely saved from death by mystical good Samaritans somehow connected with the family. Flashing forward: As an adult, Elsa comes to power as queen and during her coronation celebration, Anna falls in love at first sight and aims to marry ASAP. Elsa’s “no” to a blessing is so strong the whole land freezes. Amid the sketchy plot, a whole lot of dazzling happens.

This and that from the experience:

+ Singing of the Elsa and Anna actors – adult and child – is in a high, intense range… soprano as SOPRANO.

+ Toward the beginning, the girls put together individual parts of a little toy snowman they call Olaf. When completed, this built-in-front-of-you toy moves. Like, presto… moves! Later, when the girls are grown, Olaf is a puppet that talks, sings and dances by way of an actor (F. Michael Haynie).

+ At the coronation ball, Anna (Berklea Going) is taken for a spin – literally – on the dance floor by her freshly-found love, Hans (Austin Colby), a dashing fellow who is No. 13 on the list to inherit the throne in his tiny homeland. In the dance, Anna is essentially a rag doll being whipped around Hans’ body, plus she has hard, hard moves of her own. And Anna sings and acts brightly all along. According to the printed program, Berklea Going is an understudy for the role. Her keen performance is a sign of the depth of talent in this company.

+ “Let It Go” is more than a sung song in this production. As Elsa, Caroline Bowman certainly unleashes its loft and drama. But much more is happening in those few minutes as lighting and staging and special effects and other trickery unfold like an animated movie happening right in front of viewers. On a movie screen, the fantasy is expected and “normal.” Happening right in front of you, live, it’s seemingly out of this world. AHHH.

+ The creators developed a balance between the sisters. Elsa is a dark soul, wary of the power she knows is dangerous. Anna is happy as “the spare, not the heir” to the throne and a figure of joy and love.

+ Sven, the reindeer, is a marvel. Yes, there is a living, breathing reindeer in the show – not a real one but a moving, dancing, speaking costumed effect with two people inside. Sometimes life in theater is an inside job. This one is mighty impressive.

+ Anna has another love-at-first-sight experience. The second time, it’s with Kristoff (Mason Reeves), an ice salesman with sudden bad luck. Along with Sven, Kristoff leads Anna into the treacherously icy mountain, singing and romancing all he way. Manson Reeves also applies a melancholy touch in the tender “What Do You Know About Love?”

+ A bit of Disney nuttiness opens the second act. “Convenience store” owner Oaken (Michael Milkanin) leads the nimble fun that includes Oaken’s family bursting from a sauna to dance “nude” and thrashing one another in a case of mass Scandinavian ecstasy.

+ Choreography in this production is more than dancing at a ball. It can be goofy at a sauna, smooth and swell at the coronation ball or mass movement that expresses a mood, becomes a rock or becomes the sea swallowing the parents of Elsa and Anna.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Frozen” was one of the touring productions pulled from the schedule. Back in action, it comes with the feeling of an added aura of eagerness on stage and, at least Tuesday, in the audience.


Running time: Two hours, 15 minutes

Remaining performances: 7:30 p.m. May 18-20; 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 21; 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. May 22; 7:30 p.m. May 24-27; 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 28; and 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. May 29


Creative: Based on the 2013 movie: Book – Jennifer Lee; music and lyrics – Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez; director – Michael Grandage; choreographer – Rob Ashford; scenic and costume design – Christopher Oram; lighting design – Natasha Katz; sound design – Peter Hylenski; video design – Finn Ross; puppet design – Michael Curry; hair design – David Brian Brown; make-up design – Anne Ford-Coates; special effects design – Jeremy Chernick; music supervision and arrangements – Stephen Oremus; orchestrations – Dave Metzger; music coordinator – Michael Keller; music coordinator – Michael Aarons

Cast (in order of appearance/5.17)

Young Anna – Victoria Hope Chan

Young Elsa – Arwen Monzon-Sanders

Queen Iduna – Natalie Wisdom

King Agnarr – Michael Everett

Head Handmaiden – Caelan Creaser

Pabbie – Dustin Layton

Bulda – Brit West

Bishop – Michael Milkanin

Anna – Berklea Going (5.17; understudy for Lauren Nicole Chapman)

Elsa – Caroline Bowman

Weselton – Jeremy Morse

Hans – Austin Colby

Kristoff – Mason Reeves

Sven – Evan Strand

Olaf – Daniel Switzer

Oaken – Michael Milkanin

Ensemble – Caelan Creaser, Jeremy Davis, Colby Dezelick, Michael Everett, Berklea Going, Michael Allan Haggerty, Tyler Jimenez, Hannah Jewel Kohn, Marina Kondo, Nika Lindsay, Tatyana Lubov, Adrianna Rose Lyons, Michael Milkanin, Kyle Lamar Mitchell, Naomi Rodgers, Daniel Switzer, Zach Trimmer, Brit West

Swings – Kristen Smith Davis, Dustin Layton, Tony Neidenbach, Jessie Peltier, Brian Steven Shaw, Natalie Wisdom

Orchestra: Music director/conductor – Faith Seetoo; associate conductor – Kathy Billie; keyboard 1 – Jenna Mee Dosch; keyboard 2/assistant conductor – Josh Tatsuo Cullen; drums/percussion – Jeff MacPherson; acoustic/electric bass – Marc Hogan; flute/piccolo/clarinet/alto sax/soprano sax – Julie Ferrara; oboe/English horn/flute/clarinet/tenor sax – Mike Livingston; trumpet 1/flugelhorn – Tim Burke; trumpet 2/flugelhorn – Paul Baron; French horn – Charlotte O’Connor; trombone – Jim Gray



Act I

“Vuelie” – Company (music and lyrics by Christophe Beck and Frode Fjellheim)

“Let the Sun Shine On” – Young Anna, Young Elsa, King, Queen, Townspeople

“A Little Bit of You” – Young Elsa, Young Anna

“Hidden Folk” – Queen, Pabbie, Young Elsa, King, Company

“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” – Young Anna, Anna, Elsa

“For the First Time in Forever” – Anna, Elsa, Townspeople

“Hans of the Southern Isles” – Hans

“Queen Anointed’ – Townspeople

“Dangerous to Dream” – Elsa, Townspeople

“Love Is an Open Door” – Anna, Hans

“Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People” – Kristoff

“What Do You Know About Love?” – Anna, Kristoff

“In Summer” – Olaf

“Hans of the Southern Isles” (Reprise) – Hans, Weselton, Townspeople

“Let It Go” – Elsa

Act II

“Hygge” – Oaken, Kristoff, Anna, Olaf, Family and Friends

“I Can’t Lose You” – Anna, Elsa

“Fixer Upper” – Bulda, Pabbie, Olaf, Hidden Folk

“Kristoff Lullaby” – Kristoff

“Monster” – Elsa, Hans, Men

“Colder by the Minute” – Anna, Kristoff, Elsa, Hans, Townspeople

Finale: “Let It Go” (Reprise) – Company


NEXT: “Celtic Woman: Postcards from Ireland,” June 2.

THE VENUE: Thrivent Financial Hall is the main theater of Fox Cities Performing Arts Center on College Avenue in downtown Appleton. The capacity is 2,072. The seating area is in the shape of a horse shoe, with three balconies following the shape. The stage is 60 feet across and 40 feet high. The décor features Veneciano plaster walls with dark-stained cherry wood. In the oval dome ceiling is a 65-foot-long chandelier that is reminiscent of the Art Deco era. The design includes ruby inserts in the opaque cream-colored glass. Flowing along the walls up to the chandelier are parallel metal pipes as if of a musical instrument. Flat walls in the front third of the hall are salmon colored, while red pleated theatrical curtains dominate the rest of the side walls. The white acoustic wing over the stage looks like the underside of a sci-fi spacecraft. The lobby area consists of lots of geometrics, glass and, on the ground level, a feeling of openness and spaciousness. The exterior of the gray building features gentle curves. A large glass skylight is reminiscent of a human eye.

THE NAME: Thrivent Financial has roots in a life insurance company that was chartered in 1902 as Aid Association for Lutherans, based in Appleton. The corporate name has been Thrivent since 2002.