Pelican Productions. Arts Theatre. 5 Aug 2023
One doesn't know how Jen Frith and Kylie Green do it. Year after year Pelican Productions presents massive alternating junior cast after massive alternating cast of juniors. Blockbuster show after blockbuster show. I’ve never seen them do a bad show. And, I’ve never seen a kid onstage who is not pulling his, her or their weight and giving out, right down through the ensemble members.
And, quite frankly, the Disney organisation can stand proud to have their shows delivered with this degree of finesse.
For Adelaide, the reward comes not only in the quality of the entertainment but in the professional training to which the young casts are exposed. Hence, with “Summer” and "Winter” alternating casts, under the musical direction of Ben Francis, powerful voices belt out Broadway style from nascent talent. And the older hands in the casts already have a professional sheen.
Disney’s Frozen Jnr at The Arts is not just a winner because of these factors but also because of the startlingly good production values. The projections of snowstorms are so effective one thinks snow is actually flying out from the stage. And the pace of the show is stunningly snappy, tapping in just about on the quick-fire hour. If flaw there is any, it is in that fraught technology of body mikes and a big cast. And, perchance, vocalists occasionally over-compensating for soundtracks.
There are some big, big voices in this company of which this critic could see only its “summer" cast. Therein there were Annas young and old. In fact, there was an infant Anna in the opening number appearing alongside an infant Elsa, played by Hazel and Edie Frith, twin daughters of the producer Jen Frith. Just a heart-melting first which rather challenged the showbiz records of theatre baby stage debuts. If those gals don’t end up treading the boards…
Subsequent ages of Anna were well sung by Lila Messenger, Vegas Nikolitsis and, as the adult, Abigail Sharp, while baby Elsa’s role was followed by young Elsa with Mia Ricciardelli, then Tahlia Sabatino before Lluka Wadley as big Elsa, the famous Frozen queen. Well done all round.
There were some outstanding characterisations, Aiden Salmon as Olaf and Ava Sirico dancing Snowflake among them.
But, with such a plenitude of fine young talent, it seems unfair to pick and choose. Just smile and applaud.
Pelican is furnishing our future and among its summer and winter ensembles, and from its Music Theatre camps and tuition “nests”, along with its old school rehearsal processes, it is creating a solid foundation for the arts of tomorrow.
Of course, we live in hope of a government willing to recognise the importance for South Australia of the arts for both state economy and reputation. It feels decidedly gloomy at the moment.
Not that Pelican leans on funding. It is a thriving independent operation, its momentum driven by investments of parental love and belief in enablement.
So, three cheers all around, with a fourth for the substance Pelican offers to the future of Australia’s performing arts.
What: Frozen Jr.
When: 3 to 6 Aug. 23
Where: The Arts Theatre
NB: Next week, August 10- 12 it is presenting the second part of a blockbuster double with Legally Blonde also at The Arts Theatre.
What: Legally Blonde
When: 10 to 12 Aug
Where: The Arts Theatre