JANESVILLE—Jim Tropp had not seen the Disney film “Frozen” until a few weeks ago.
But during auditions for the upcoming Rock River Repertory Theatre Company’s production of “Frozen Jr.,” Tropp, one of the show’s directors, noticed a particular passion coming from the kids involved.
“I realized in auditions how precious and personal this show is to people,” he said. “How important it was ... it is to them, by the way they were prepared and how well they knew the characters.”
Tropp liked the 2013 movie, by the way, and he’s now looking forward to the sequel coming out in November.
But much sooner than that will come the local production, which is a condensed version of the Broadway show.
“Frozen Jr.” opens at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, at Parker High School, and it will feature more shows that weekend and the one after.
Tropp is directing the show with Declan Boran-Ragotzy. Music and choreography will be run by Melissa Lentz and Boran-Ragotzy, respectively.
The cast of about 20 features kids from local communities such as Janesville, Beloit and Monroe, Tropp said.
Rock River Rep wanted to produce a children’s show this year, so it chose “Frozen Jr.” Along with the rights for a community theater group to put on the show, however, comes regulations (everyone in the cast must be 18 or younger) and there are limitations on ticket prices and the number of shows that can be performed, Tropp said.
The show runs about 70 minutes long, and Tropp said all of the memorable moments and songs from the movie are there. For example, a song that was originally four minutes has been shortened to two.
“They have condensed it but have kept intact the story,” he said. “It just moves really fast.”
While some of the kids in the show are ages 12 or younger, the show’s two leads—Abra Henry (playing Elsa) and Morgan Stengel (playing Anna)—recently graduated from Craig High School.
In interviews, both said their favorite part of the show so far has been working with the younger children.
“Seeing them get excited makes me excited about it,” Henry said. “The kids are going to be so cute, and they’re super talented.”
Not counting elementary school shows, Stengel said she has been performing in theater productions for five years. Henry started at age 10, but after a break she started acting again during her sophomore year.
Tropp, who has been with the Rock River Repertory Theatre for eight years, said he is drawn by a sense of story. He loves musical theater most, and he said the music for “Frozen Jr.” is woven into the story “beautifully.”
“Story is a big thing for me,” he said. “When you get a condensed show like this, there’s stuff that you’re bound to lose. But this has it all.
“Disney has done a really good job to make this ‘junior’ version.”
Tropp also said he appreciates how the production lets kids experience theater. He usually works more with high school students and adults, but he said this time, he is getting to help “really talented” younger children.
Tropp recently directed the Janesville School District’s summer school production of “42nd Street” as well, but said “Frozen Jr.” is “completely different than that.”
While he thinks parents will enjoy “Frozen Jr.,” too, Tropp said the production is geared toward children.
“It’s going to be a good time,” he said. “Kids are going to love it—I’m going to tell you that right now. Children are going to absolutely love this.”