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Caissie Levy Sparkles as Frozen’s Elsa

August 13, 2018 - by Meryl Pearlstein
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When you step into Broadway’s St. James Theatre for Frozen, Disney’s latest stage adaptation of an animated feature, don’t think for a moment its appeal is limited to kids. Despite a guaranteed cavalcade of mini Elsas, Annas, and Olafs posing for snapshots and voguing in the aisles, this musical goes far deeper into the lives of royal sisters Elsa and Anna than the 2013 film did.

caissie levy elsa frozen broadway

Photo by Deen van Meer.

“It’s a story that means a lot to both adults and children,” says Caissie Levy, who plays the conflicted “Ice Queen,” Elsa, whose magic leaves her soul “spiraling in frozen fractals all around.”

A musical theater veteran whose Broadway credits include Les Misérables, Ghost, Hair, Wicked, and Hairspray, Levy goes on to explain how the stage version (book by Jennifer Lee; direction by Tony winner Michael Grandage), highlights the princesses’ back-stories and relationships. “There are many themes at play here, from love to self-discovery and self-acceptance. It’s an important Broadway show for theatergoers of all ages.”

Adding action and dimension to these themes are thrilling visuals: giant castle doors…treacherous snow-studded mountains…a breathtaking ice palace—all portals to an otherworldly time and place where Elsa, born with the power to conjure snow and ice, goes from carefree child to solitary adolescent to reluctant queen, forced to distance herself from Anna, who desperately longs to be with her enchanted big sister.

But once Elsa’s powers are unleashed full force on the village and beyond—creating a supernatural winter in the middle of summer—she runs off, leaving her kingdom, subjects, and sister behind. Her objective is a familiar one: to find herself.

caissie levy elsa frozen broadway

Photo by Deen van Meer.

“I hear a lot about the appeal of the show when I meet people at the stage door. People tell me how Elsa’s struggles are like their own…about fitting in or about accepting personal issues,” says Levy. “They see Elsa as someone who turns her own difficult situation and need to be perfect into something beautiful, something that finally allows her to be free.”

It’s for these theatergoers that Levy’s gorgeous delivery of Frozen’s Grammy-winning “Let It Go” soars beyond show-stopping stature. “I’m singing an anthem that, for many, reaches their soul,” notes the Canadian-born actress, who clearly understands the impact of such lyric lines as: “Let it go, let it go…Here I stand and here I’ll stay…I’m never going back/The past is in the past!”

That transformative number, Elsa’s “aha!” moment, ends Act I and sets the stage for a second act in which Anna (Patti Murin), who has spent several scenes wending her way through snowy terrain in search of her sister, has her own epiphany.

patti murin anna elsa caissie levy frozen broadway

Photo by Deen van Meer.

Murin’s Anna, whose mischievous personality is made up of equal parts spunk, optimism, and naiveté, finds herself on the flip side of magic, dealing with down-to-earth emotional triggers stemming from attraction, loss, friendship, and romance.

Although instantly smitten by Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (John Riddle), she finds herself inexplicably drawn to commoner/mountain dude Kristoff (Jelani Aladdin) who, along with his reindeer companion Sven (Andrew Pirozzi), become her traveling companions on her quest to find Elsa. The trio becomes a foursome when Anna and Elsa’s imaginary friend from childhood—a lovably goofy snowman named Olaf (Greg Hildreth)—materializes. Note: Sven and Olaf, characters already adored by fans of the movie, have been ingeniously brought to stage life through awesome costume and puppet artistry. (Stuffed versions are for sale in the theater, and no, you don’t have to be a youngster to absolutely need to take them home with you.)

As for the score, composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez have added several outstanding new numbers to their beloved movie songbook, while the dances by Tony-winning choreographer Rob Ashford are, quite simply, enchanting. In fact, every aspect of Frozen seems to seamlessly blend together.

“While the story is about love, it’s not a girl-meets-boy kind of love,” says Levy. “Here it’s about the love between two sisters and how that triumphs over all. For me, it’s interesting, too, because it’s the first play that I’ve been in where my character isn’t involved in any romance,” she adds with a laugh. “But Elsa is still an anguished female with a love story, and that’s a role that’s exciting to play.”

company of frozen broadway

Photo by Deen van Meer.


Frozen is playing at Broadway’s St James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St. For tickets call 877-250-2929 or visit frozenthemusical.com

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