Waterloo-based drama workshop actOUT! will put on an enchanting modern classic fitting for the winter season: Disney’s Frozen Junior.
The show features all the memorable songs with music and lyrics Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez from the hit Academy Award-winning 2013 Disney fantasy film, along with five new songs written for the 2018 Broadway production. The abridged version is designed to be staged by young actors, which is in keeping with actOUT!’s mandate.
“It’s a family-friendly, fun for all ages … audiences will go out and leave the theatre singing,” said artistic director Todd Vercoe.
A story of love, and acceptance between sisters, Frozen Jr. expands further upon the emotional relationship and journey between two sisters who couldn’t be more opposite: bubbly, carefree Anna, and calm, measured Elsa, who are royalty in the magical land of Arendelle.
When faced with danger, the two discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood. With a cast of beloved characters and loaded with magic, adventure, and plenty of humor, Frozen Jr. is sure to thaw even the coldest heart.
“The rights became available last spring. … We’re one of the first companies in Canada to do it,” said Vercoe of the selection for this particular production. “I knew it would be popular, both for the cast and the audience. So I immediately said that’s the first show we’re going to do.”
A cast of 27 performers ages 10-17 will bring the production to life under the direction of Anita V. Smith. Actors hail from all across the region, including Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, and some 60 per cent or so are returning cast members, said Vercoe.
Audiences can expect colourful costumes for characters such as Princess Elsa, snowman Olaf, and reindeer Sven.
“My theme for the season is empowerment, and I see Frozen as a very empowering show. Especially for women,” added Vercoe.
There will be two versions of the play using the same actors, which will help spread the larger roles around, builds mentoring, and provides an understudy should the need arise.
This is 14-year-old Erin Simpson’s fifth production at actOUT!. She will take on one of the lead roles as Elsa, looking to the film version for inspiration.
“Frozen is a really happy and lively show to do,” said Simpson. “It’s been such a great experience getting out of my introverted comfort zone and being able to perform.”
Inclusiveness and skill-building is the main purpose of actOUT!, now in its 25th season. The drama school accepts performers of any experience level on a first-come, first serve basis, and offers a variety of workshops and summer camps to improve vocal, dramatic, movement and theatrical skills.
At the end of their public performances, actOUT! has a program called Change to Make a Change. The aim is to collect money for local charities that serve children in the Waterloo Region. This year, that charity is Carizon Family and Community Services, which provides mental health and counselling services.
Previous charities benefited in the past include the Make-A-Wish foundation as well as Nutrition for Learning.
Disney’s Frozen Jr. plays at the Registry Theatre (122 Frederick St., Kitchener) this weekend, December 18-21; evening shows start at 6:30 p.m. There is one 1:30 p.m. matinee show on Dececember 21. Advance tickets are available at the Act Out KW website or through Ticket Scene.