Opening night for the Three Rivers Community Players (TRCP) production of “Frozen Jr.” is set for tomorrow, August 4, and is a kid-performed adaption of the 2013 Disney animated film, and Tony-award-nominated 2018 Broadway production. The show will run for two weekends on August 4-6, and August 11-13.
Director Mary Yost told Watershed Voice “Frozen Jr.” is the second show she has directed with TRCP, with the first being “Into the Woods” in October of 2022. “I worked with adults and youth in the greater Houston area teaching and directing until 2021 when we moved permanently home to Three Rivers,” she said. “I’ve directed or been a part of at least 50 productions.”
Yost said there are 22 students involved in the production of “Frozen Jr.,” and ages range from seven to 14-years-old. “For many this is their first show, and we also have some old pros,” she said. With such a wide variance in age levels, Yost said she matched cast members up into “Bigs and Littles” – or “Bittles” as she called them – so the students could encourage and help one another throughout the show process.
Rehearsals for “Frozen Jr.” began on June 26 after a weekend of auditions and callbacks, and the cast rehearsed Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. “Our days began with warmups and a game, and then we went to work,” Yost said. “We’d break for lunch and play some more games, and then finish our rehearsal with the cast affirming one another with ‘nominations.’” She said the cast would look for positive moments or actions other cast members had done that day, and then the person they nominated would get a piece of candy. “We always want to keep our days fun and uplifting,” Yost said.
Adapting a production such as “Frozen Jr.” for a community theater stage had its challenges and Yost said one of those feats was the complicated music and score. “We have really challenged the entire cast to learn and perform it as written,” she said. “Nancy Mansberger, our vocal director, has done a fantastic job helping the kids on and off the stage, and we also have an amazing stage manager in Charlee Edwards. She keeps us on track and grounded as she works invisibly behind the scenes.” Yost added she didn’t want the show to feel like a “little kid” show, and acknowledged the work done by the cast and their parents to create a visually beautiful production. “The cast’s parents have been a part of the ‘Frozen Jr.’ journey, as well, with creating our costumes, sets, props, making concessions, and helping us keep care for all the children,” she said.
Yost said the beauty of community theater is the way it brings a group of people together with a common purpose, and everyone has a piece of the whole. “When children participate in theater they learn empathy, critical thinking, problem-solving, as well as time management and team work,” she said. “Theater is our sport, and we love to play!”
“Frozen Jr.” will run from August 4-6, and August 11-13, with performances on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and matinees on Saturday and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online on the TRCP website, and are $15 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
Beca Welty is a staff writer and columnist for Watershed Voice.