The cast of the Three Rivers Community Players production of “Frozen Jr.” pose for a picture during a recent rehearsal. The show runs from Aug. 4-6 and Aug. 11-13 with four shows each weekend. (COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON)
By Robert Tomlinson
THREE RIVERS — One of the most ubiquitous Disney movies of the last decade is coming to the Three Rivers Community Players stage, and the show’s production team is hoping audiences don’t “Let It Go” to waste, or they might be “Frozen” out.
“Frozen Jr.,” an adaptation of the hit 2013 Disney film and 2018 Broadway production “Frozen” designed for kids to perform, will make its way to the Three Rivers Community Players stage starting next week.
Show dates are Aug. 4-6 and Aug. 11-13, with four shows each weekend. Friday performances occur at 7:30 p.m., Saturday performances are at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.
The show, directed by Mary Yost, follows the story of a princess named Anna trying to find her estranged sister, Elsa, whose ice powers accidentally trapped their kingdom, Arendelle, in an eternal winter. Anna gets the help of an iceman named Kristoff, his reindeer, and a snowman named Olaf to help in their journey.
“We learn about true love, friendship, we learn about taking care of one another, and the value of family,” Yost said. “There are so many lessons learned in this show.”
“Frozen Jr.” is the junior show for the Community Players for its 2022-23 season, and performed by local kids. Yost, who has directed youth shows in the Houston area in the past, said the cast of kids has been great to work with so far, has shown a lot of talent, and have been having fun both working on the show and getting to know each other.
“Our cast is fabulous. They take care of each other, they’re having fun, and they have worked so hard,” Yost said. “We matched each young cast member with an older cast member, and they both take care of each other. They write each other encouraging notes, gifts or pieces of candy, they sit together for lunch. We try to kinda knit that right from the beginning that we’re a team. We put our focus on creating an experience for them and the audience.”
The lead roles of Anna and Elsa will be played by Kinsley Smith and Katie Jacobs respectively. Because the show follows the two girls through childhood, two more versions of each sister will be portrayed in the play: Young Anna and Elsa will be played by Melody Griffith and Isabel Bikulcius respectively, and “Middle” Anna and Elsa will be played by Bianca Harris and Megan Phillips respectively. For the other lead roles, Kristoff will be played by Kyle Brandys, Sven, the reindeer, will be played by Dominik Thibos, Olaf will be played by Bruno Bikulcius, and Hans, Anna’s first love interest in the show, will be played by Paolo Arevalo.
In total, there are 23 kids in the production, each taking on different character roles, with a mix of kids new to theater and who have done theater before.
Elsa (played by Katie Jacobs) belts out the iconic “Let it Go” musical number during the Three Rivers Community Players production of “Frozen Jr.” (COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON)
The show, Yost said, follows very close to the original movie, with a couple of small changes, including the Oaken character from the movie being a family and having their own song in the production, while Grand Pabbie and Bulda, two troll-like characters in the movie, are now known as “hidden folk,” which Yost said is a cross between a troll and fairy.
Yost also praised the behind-the-scenes work done on the sets and even some special effects she hopes to incorporate into the show. Given that it’s a small community theater, she said they have had to get creative, especially when it comes to the big number in the show, “Let it Go.”
“We had to figure out how to convert Arendelle into the ice palace. I didn’t want a lot of moving parts because we have all these kids going on and off stage, so we got a magical special effect to make that conversion without having to do anything, it’s kind of neat,” Yost said. “Then there’s other cool things where you’ll have to come see it to experience it.”
Yost said audiences can expect to see a fun production, but also a professional one from the kids and the crew.
“I think they’re going to be surprised at how professional the kids are. I think their expectations will be exceeded when they hear the kids and see the kids, especially the acting. They’re trying to bring it to another level so that the kids feel comfortable being on stage,” Yost said. “We’re going to have a great show, and people are going to be blown away.”
Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at trcommunityplayers.com or at the door. Yost said she hopes all of the performances are well-attended to help give the kids support.
“We really want to sell it out. We want people to come and support these kids; they’ve spent their whole summer here and they’ve worked really hard,” Yost said. “We want to see an audience that will jump to their feet at the end of the show and appreciate everything that they’ve done.”
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or email@example.com.
Young Anna (left, played by Melody Griffith) tries to get Young Elsa (right, played by Isabel Bikulcius) to come and play with her during the musical number “Do You Want to Build A Snowman” in the Three Rivers Community Players production of “Frozen Jr.” (COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON)