Get ready to see the northeast Indiana premier of “Frozen Jr.” presented by the Fort Wayne Youtheatre, starting Dec. 6. Featuring all the songs from the Disney movie and five more from the Broadway musical, this presentation should hit all the right notes.
But, for a play that features so much winter weather, will the Youtheatre be able to make it snow inside the First Presbyterian Theater?
“You’ll see it snow,” promised director Christopher J. Murphy. Through the use of lighting effects, some secret sleight-of-hand tricks, and professionally designed projector backdrops, scenery will change and grow as the actors are onstage.
Curious about what the “Jr.” part means in the title? Murphy explained that this is the trademark of the company Music Theatre International, which adapts original plays and musicals for younger actors and audiences. In this case, the New York City-based company was able to work with the original writers and directors of the Disney movie so that there is truly an authentic touch running throughout the kid-friendly presentation (MTI rates it “G”).
Thirty-six actors and actresses will be presenting this premier performance at the First Presbyterian Theater. “It is a great sized house for our show,” Murphy said. He noted that the Youtheatre and the acting cast at First Presbyterian Theater will both be giving December performances in the same space: “Frozen Jr.” will be presented in mostly afternoon shows, while First Presbyterian, after their Dec. 1 program, will offer “Christmas Songs and Stories” in evening appearances. “We come up with a basic, common set design (that both acting groups can use),” he said.
In addition to the musical, there is also a Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 14. Characters like Elsa, Christoph and Olaf will be present to mingle with fans — and those same thespians will appear on the stage later that day. But, if you don’t have tickets for this breakfast, you may want to mark it on your calendar for next year — it’s already sold out, as is the final Sunday performance of Frozen Jr.
Murphy has been working on the musical’s logistics for about nine months. Last March, he was planning for their next Christmas season presentation (in years past, it has been “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”). He learned that “Frozen Jr.” would be available — and the Youtheatre immediately purchased the license to perform the new work.
But will Olaf melt onstage? Don’t worry. “Our Olaf is a very adorable puppet,” said Murphy. About 4 feet tall, and attached with a harness to the front of an actor, the snowman will be able to fulfill his role with no problem.
The same goes for the reindeer — which is another full-size puppet harnessed to a human. Murphy said that these costumes are very much like the puppets used on the Broadway presentation of “The Lion King” where people are part of the puppet’s costume.
Another cool fact: keep an eye on the character Elsa — the young and adult representations will be played by sisters.