I was out of town for the first weekend of “Disney’s Frozen Jr.” at Children’s Musical Theaterworks. But I got a chance to catch the Saturday matinee and see the Blizzard cast perform. There’s one more performance on Sunday (2 p.m., Fresno Memorial Auditorium), when the Blizzard cast again performs.
As always, I don’t do official reviews of CMT shows, but here are five things to admire about the production:
1. Young Anna and Young Elsa singing together. Kayley Cross (Anna) and Nina Munoz (Elsa) brought sassy attitude and brassy voices to the opening scenes. Later, Middle Anna (Olivia Monson) and Middle Elsa (Bella Adams) continued the good work.
2. The way the projections and scenic design complemented each other. At one point, banners descend in virtual form in Anna and Elsa’s childhood palace, and real banners are flown in as well, creating a seamless dimensionality to the scene. Dan Aldape (lights, set, sound) and his W.o.W. Productions deliver impressive effects with the projections (created specifically for the show), including moving backdrops, zippy magic effects and, of course, lots of snow. Directors C.J. Dion and Taylor Gilbert make it all come together.
3. Olaf’s sense of comic timing. How do you live up to one of Disney’s most famous recent comic creations? Crack jokes like a pro. Emily White played the famous snowman with well-placed quips and a boisterous stage presence, accompanied by an endearing reindeer (Ella Rutiaga). I was also impressed by Noah Miranda as Hans, the handsome prince, and Emilia Kolbert as a memorable Anna.
4. The featured dancers. One of my favorite parts of the production is the way that a small corps of dancers becomes a visual manifestation of Elsa’s magical powers. Dressed in white dancewear with fringes of blue, their movements add a frosty, ethereal quality to the action.
5. “Let It Go.” It all comes down to the big song, right? Emily Swalef has an impressive voice as Elsa, and the moment she “builds” her ice castle in the first-act finale is done very well, especially thanks to her dancers. Girl empowerment, here we come. The cold doesn’t bother them, anyway.