April 20, 2022 — Performers from CROW (Children’s Repertory of Oregon Workshops) will introduce the community to “Frozen Jr.” this weekend at the Florence Events Center. The cast ranges in age from 6 to 18, and outstanding sets, costumes and lighting are prepared to spotlight them on the mainstage.
“For the first time in forever, CROW is back on stage!” said CROW Artistic Director Melanie Heard.
Led by a cast of familiar faces, the CROW production features actors who starred in several past performances in Florence. Sisters Anna and Elsa — the princesses of Arendelle — will be played by Elyse Stewart and Haylee Cole. Owen Harklerode plays Hans, rivalled by William Owens as Kristoff. Goofy sidekicks Olaf and Sven are played by Elliot Dotson and Nyx Harklerode, respectively.
Elyse, 16, said, “I like playing Anna because she’s quirky, naive and fun spirited. We both like to make people laugh.”
Unlike the young princess, she said she isn’t a sap for love. However, “getting to be somebody else and walk in their shoes” is one of her favorite parts about performing.
Haylee, also 16, plays her older sister.
“My favorite part about performing is that I can bring my own stuff to each character that I am. I have been performing since I could remember. The stage is my home in every way possible. If I didn’t have it in my life, then I don’t know what I would do with myself,” she said.
Haylee said she and Elsa “are trying to be better versions of ourselves and trying to overcome our fears.”
One of her biggest struggles with the show was early in the production, when the cast still had to wear masks during rehearsals.
No masks will be required at the Florence Events Center for the production. A livestream of the productions will also be available for purchase.
“I think we can all agree that COVID-19 was a rough experience for everybody,” said William, 18. “This has been a tough time to come of age. … I'm still working on becoming better, but being involved with the arts again should help immensely with the betterment of my mental state.”
He said Kristoff “is a tough, no-nonsense type of character, but deep down he is one of the most sensitive and caring people you could meet.”
Owen, who turns 17 on April 21, enjoys the twist he gets to bring to the plot as Prince Hans of the Southern Isles.
“Like Hans, I like trying to get to know people well; unlike Hans, I don't use that knowledge for evil,” he said. “I love being able to play as different characters, which is something I love about D&D. I especially love being able to play very over-the-top characters. … It’s nice to come back and shake off the rust.”
Owen’s sibling Nyx, 13, is also excited to be back on stage.
“I like playing Sven because he is funny,” they said. “The chemistry is really good with Kristoff and it's my first CROW performance and I'm very happy about it. I'm like Sven because we are both good friends and we can get into the groove of what everyone else is doing and have fun with it. We are different because Sven doesn't talk much.”
For Nyx, joining CROW has meant working on vocals and learning choreography — “I dance as well as a reindeer!”
And for those wondering, “Do you want to build a snowman?,” Elliot, 14, has stepped into some very fun shoes to play Olaf.
Additional cast members include Andrew Hester as King Agnarr and Wandering Oaken, Eryn Morgan as Queen Iduna, Dante Galli as Pabbie and Alex Fuller of The Hidden Folk and Landon Peck as Duke of Weselton. Announced this week,Emma Meier will be the Bishop of Arendelle. Younger versions of Anna will be played by Maggie Walls and Reese Flescher, and younger versions of Elsa will be played by Abigael Hummel and Hosanna Stone. The rest of the cast consists of Olivia Colby, Zoie Evans, Hailey Flescher, Sabrina Heard, Lillian Olson, Violet Ory-Remer, Gus Stone, Henry Stone and Saige Winters.
“We at CROW Are very excited to put on a show for the community of Florence once again!” William said.
The CROW cast and crew have been hard at work leading up to opening night. In addition to the crew building the professional set design, costuming more than a dozen kids and wrapping up lighting and sound cues, the cast has gotten their first chances to perform onstage since the onset of the pandemic.
Heard introduced the leads to the FEC stage on April 5, giving many of them their first chance to look out over an audience in more than two years.
“This is the magic. This is what it’s all about,” Heard said.
Some of the cast’s performances have been through short song sets at Adventure Children’s Museum, Rotary Club of Florence, senior living facilities and assemblies for area schools.
“Providing a smile to our senior community and teaching our students about the importance of service is part of our overall mission at CROW, and very near and dear to my heart,” Heard said. “It was both joyful and rewarding for the ‘Frozen’ kids, and we all feel very grateful that we were able to carefully and safely visit the Spruce Point and Memory Care facility residents.”
CROW presents “Frozen Jr.” at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St., for three performances: Friday, April 22, at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 23, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 24, at 2 p.m. Tickets are available for each show, as well as the livestream options, through the box office at 541-997-1994 and eventcenter.org.
For more information, visit crowkids.org.