By Nicole Matheson
Young actors bring big Broadway to Havasu in the popular Disney musical “Frozen Jr.,” currently at Main Street theater Grace Arts Live. It’s not too late to see this production, with one more weekend of performances, featuring a local cast of talented performers aged from about 8 to 17 years old.
Seasoned veterans of their craft, Ellerie Blomenkamp as Anna, Brynn Welde as Elsa and Aeryn Aurand as Olaf, all age 15, stand out among this gifted young ensemble and help provide leadership to the younger up-and-coming Havasu thespians in training.
RiverScene went backstage before the show for a short interview with the three young stars who were in the midst of preparations for their roles. Around them others can be seen going through the important pre-show process.
Some actors were conscientiously running dialogue with others, providing some last-minute confidence. Some, with more unique roles, were still in dressing rooms applying last minute touches to makeup and carefully fitting complicated costumes together. Above this sea of activity, the three leads stood aside as other actors buzz around checking their stage props to ensure they were set properly.
Preparing For The Show
For these three actors, getting to the theatre at least 90 minutes before the curtain, “call time” as it is labeled in the industry, gives them enough time to have a body mic put on them by the sound technician before they don their makeup, character wigs and costumes.
The sound of vocal exercises in the background and physical warm-ups permeated the air as the girls graciously spoke of what it’s like to play such famous characters in front of eager audiences.
“It’s so much fun, people love ‘Frozen,’” Aurand said, as she waited till the last minute to receive help putting on her Olaf the snowman costume to avoid damaging the large pieces that make the outfit. “They know all the iconic lines and songs and they applaud when they hear their favorite parts. They’re so engaged.” They certainly are, as Aurand provided a natural comedic timing to a role that earns some of the biggest laughs from the audience.
Welde, who sings “Frozen’s” most memorable song “Let It Go,” nodded in agreement, her platinum blonde wig already in place for curtain. “To be up there as such a big, powerful character that all the little girls look up to,” is her favorite part of this production, along with the warm reception the young children in the audience give the actors who remain in costume after the performance.
It’s a special treat for their new fans who eagerly request pictures and autographs from their favorite characters, a feel-good moment for all those involved. Arguably none are more popular than Welde’s character Elsa, who says her journey throughout the story is challenging to portray. Ridden with angst but ending on a high note, Welde’s performance is both devastating and inspiring.
A Learning Experience
Participating in the youth theater programs is fun and rewarding, yet these teen actors say that what they learn from the experience is just as important. “It teaches compassion and love for other people,” Blomenkamp, who plays the precocious and wide eyed younger sister of Elsa, said.
She was speaking of the relationships that are created with their fellow cast members. Blomenkamp was already in her first scene wig and looked the part of frazzled Anna, her natural charm shining through her portrayal of this lovable character.
All three advise other kids who are interested to come out and audition for everything they can. And in the meantime, adults and children alike should get to “Frozen Jr”. this weekend at Grace Arts Live.
Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. For ticket information visit the website at graceartslive.com.