Live musical theater takes Florence by ice storm

(Photo by Floyd Larson/Courtesy of CROW) Sisters Anna (Elyse Stewart) and Elsa (Haylee Cole) move the plot of “Frozen Jr.” from their childhoods through Elsa’s coronation in CROW’s production, playing this weekend at the Florence Events Center.

A Review of CROW's "Frozen Jr."

April 22 — With the pandemic abating, CROW (Children’s Repertory of Oregon Workshops), Florence’s premier youth theater group, is presenting Disney’s “Frozen Jr.” on April 22, 23 and 24 at the Florence Events Center (FEC). The local kids, costumed in colorful, joyous frocks, are bringing their best singing, dancing and acting chops to handsome stage sets, including a snowy forest, sunny summer festival, fantastic ice palace and an elegant piece of carpentry, Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Sauna.

The story starts with a dreadful premise. Princess Elsa is blessed with the magic to make snow and ice and cursed with that magic to accidentally turn her sister, Princess Anna, into ice. Anna is resuscitated temporarily; the story continues. There are six princesses: Young Anna (Maggie Walls) and Young Elsa (Abigael Hummel), Middle Anna (Reese Flescher) and Middle Elsa (Hosanna Stone), and they grow up so fast, their voices maturing with every age, to arrive at Elsa (Haylee Cole) and Anna (Elyse Stewart).

The royal parents of the princesses are dispensed with quickly, off to find a solution to the vexing magic of Elsa. Alas, those parents are lost at sea, Elsa is crowned queen, and Anna falls in love, only to be iced and resuscitated. The sisters must find their own solution to the vexing magic.

Elsa isolates herself in an ice palace on the North Mountain, and Anna, not knowing Elsa is the cause of her icing, sets off to find her sister, with the assistance of Kristoff, the ice man (William Owens), and his reindeer pal, Sven (Nyx Harklerode), along with Olaf the snowman (Elliott Dotson). They come upon Kristoff’s forest people, as well as Wandering Oaken (Andrew Hesser) and his woodsy clan.

Kristoff and Sven provide great comic relief, especially with their duet, “Reindeers Are Better People.”

Oaken’s clan leads Anna’s search party in a jaunty song, “Hygge,” a Danish word suggesting comfort, acceptance and conviviality with one another. While the Oaken folks are a happy lot, it’s a mystery why this song with the Danish title is here, except that “Frozen” was adapted from “The Ice Queen,” a story published in 1844 by that great Dane, Hans Christian Anderson. Perhaps it’s homage.

The quest continues.

As if despicable magic isn’t enough, the story includes despicable villains, greedy for power. Anna’s lying lover Hans (Owen Harklerode) and the officious Duke of Weselton (Landon Peck) attempt to destroy the sisters, but Kristoff makes short work of them, and all’s swell that ends well. The sisters are reunited, and love melts Anna’s icy heart.

Applause goes to director and choreographer Melanie Heard, musical director Maree Beers, and the entire cast and crew. All that’s left to do is buy a ticket, settle into your seat, and once again enjoy live musical theater on the great stage at the FEC.

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 with livestream options, through the box office at 541-997-1994 and www.eventcenter.org.

For more information, visit www.crowkids.org.

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