Okanagan students come out of the cold to stage Frozen Jr.

Centre Stage performance brings Disney favourite to life

Sydney Byles can’t let it go.

Only eight years old when Disney released the phenomenally successful computer-animated film Frozen, Byles is about to live out a fantasy when she embodies the character of Elsa in Center Stage Performing Arts Academy’s presentation of Frozen Jr.

“I still remember every word and song. I constantly watched the movie when I was a little kid,” says Byles, now 14, and a member of Centre Stage’s Lights of Broadway musical theatre troupe. “The entirety of this show is magical and has great themes. We’re going to make some little kid’s dream come true to see this come to life.”

Based on the 2018 Broadway musical, which itself is based on the 2013 film, Frozen Jr. plays for one night only at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.

For those non-Millennials unfamiliar with the original film, Frozen is loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s tale, The Snow Queen, and follows the story of two orphaned princesses, Elsa and her younger sister, Anna (May Stanley), who live in the Kingdom of Arendelle.

Described as a story of love and acceptance, Frozen Jr. expands on the relationship between the sisters, as they go on separate journeys to discover their empowerment.

“The play follows the film quite closely. The first half is quite accurate while the second half is sped up to meet the run time of one hour, 15 minutes,” says Stanley.

Other beloved and not-so-beloved characters making an appearance in Frozen Jr. include Anna’s dastardly handsome suitor, Hans (James Chaun), ice harvester Kristoff (Bodhi Cull), his feisty reindeer Sven (Lauren Anderson), as well as singing snowman Olaf (Savannah Mason).

While condensed, all the popular songs from the musical are performed by Center Stage’s main cast and Junior Company. This includes For the First Time in Forever, In Summer, Do You Want to Build a Snowman and a little ditty known as Let it Go.

“I got sick of hearing Let it Go because I heard it sung over and over again for so long,” Chaun admits. “But since starting on this show, I have to say all the numbers are really fun to perform.”

The stage version also features a few new tracks, including Hygge and Dangerous to Dream, while some extra elements have been thrown in to allow Centre Stage students to show their song and dance moves.

“My favourite part of the show is when I get to dance with the bumblebees,” says Mason, referring to Olaf’s performance of In Summer, with the bees performed by instructor Cherise McInnis’ novice dance students.

Led by Center Stage owner Charity Van Gameren and instructor Jenae Van Gameren, other performers in the production include the Twinkle Stars (ages kindergarten to Grade 2) playing insects and woodland creatures; Shining Stars (Grade 3 and 4) playing the trolls; Mini Stars (Grade 5 and 6) as the townspeople and castle staff, and Teen Stars as the Snow Chorus.

Nevada Christensen and her Actor’s Toolbox students are along for the journey as the Hidden Folk, while designer Liza Judd has created magic with a Scandinavian-influenced set.

“Frozen Jr. will warm your heart, as there is nothing more beautiful than watching the faces of children and young people light up the stage. Centre Stage is here to bring joy over the holiday season,” says Charity.

Frozen Jr. takes the stage at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 (all seats), available at the Ticket Seller box office, 250-549-SHOW (7469) or at www.ticketseller.ca.

READ MORE: Donations sought to help Vernon kids afford Christmas

READ MORE: Vernon Rotary Carol Fest rings in Christmas season


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