From left: Ashtyn Simerl (Anna) and Morgan Forehand (Elsa).
By KRISTIN SPRINGER
BREVARD CULTURE Guest Critic
This glistening cast and crew of tweens brought lovely voices and charm to their summer-camp production of Disney’s “Frozen, Jr.” at the Henegar Center for the Arts in downtown Melbourne. Running just a few months before the sequel to Disney’s blockbuster film (by the same name) is due to open in theaters, this production (led by education director, Niko Stamos, and director, Jordyn Linkous) is a triumph that shows that the Henegar is steadily in the hands of its executive artistic director, Steven J. Heron.
What little girl doesn’t dream to be part of this magical Norse fairytale of Elsa, the Snow Queen; her affection-emboldened sister, Anna; and their tarantellan snowman, Olaf? Differing from the film, the Broadway script and libretto infuse more folk culture, such as fleshing out the magical heritage that the Queen-mother passes down from the mountain druids into the royal lineage. These woodland scenes can jar film-based expectations, but in the Jr. version they bring colorful plot twists that stretch the imaginations of young actors and patrons alike.
Starring the stunning Morgan Forehand as Elsa and the silver-voiced Ashtyn Simerl as Anna—with supporting roles by Dekyln Gardner (Prince Hans,) Hutchinson Perers (Kristoff,) and Olivia DeRoche (Sven, the reindeer)—the cast showed unwavering confidence and vocal fluidity on this score that is inspired by the iconic voices of Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell.
For comic breaks, Olaf was adeptly played by the hilarious Anna-Grace Cornell. The epic company of near 50 townspeople and woodland druids sang in lovely unison and dreamily waltzed in time with the instrumental recordings (Rachel Erickson, choreographer.)
The royal costumes by Jordyn Linkous and projected visual effects by Luke Atkison were particularly charming and added sophistication to this abbreviated youth production.
Looking ahead at the climax of the Feller’s Summer Series, “Carrie” will feature another teenage protagonist with supernatural powers—however, trapped in her cruel reality of peer ridicule, Carrie’s resolve takes a much darker turn (designed for high school casts and audiences.)
The Henegar is at 625 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne, FL. To get more information about The Henegar, visit Henegar.org.
Kristin Springer is a Master Music Educator who grew up in Florida and holds a graduate degree from New York University. She offers private vocal coaching, piano lessons, Triple Talent and Music Readiness classes out of the Springer Music Studio. For a link to her studio’s Facebook page, click here.