|26th November 2022
|Darlington Academy of Performing Arts
|Type of Production
|Joanne and Paul Mason
|Joanne and Paul Mason
Author: John Holliday
Having very recently joined NODA, I was delighted to be invited along to Darlington Academy of Performing Arts production of Frozen Jr. With 2 casts over 4 productions it was brilliant to see so many talented and energetic Juniors on stage, with an age range of 3 – 16 this is an ambitious task from Directors Joanne and Paul Mason.
The stage at Hummersknott Academy is a brilliant venue and the team very cleverly used a thrust stage with an extra front extension to maximise the entrances available; after all most of this show is an adventure into many different areas of Arrundale.
With very clever lighting to show the changes in season, wonderful props and scenery and a huge amount of excellent costume changes (well done costume team), the work behind this production is enough to make most adult companies very jealous indeed.
DAPA have over 240 students attending their weekly classes and with a cast of over 60 for each show the stage was certainly packed but with clever blocking never looked over-crowded.
The main ensemble numbers were a hive of activity and with simple yet very effective choreography were a delight to watch and the confident vocals certainly filled the auditorium with a wonderful sound. The opening number and Hygge (a new number for the stage show) really gave the ensemble the chance to shine and it was lovely to see the mini-juniors working their moves on the floor in front of the main stage – real stars of the future.
Of course, a show as well known as this has some key principal characters and DAPA have some real stars in the making. Scarlett Weston and Daisy MacMillan led the opening number very effectively as the King and Queen interacting well with the younger Anna and Elsas as the story began.
The Young Anna and Elsa, Violet Springett and Darcy Longstaff were a wonderful bundle of energy in the playful manner matching their parts ages and were then taken over by Jessie Wardle and Amelia Cooper as the girls grew up and led into the well-known number, Do You Wanna Build a Snowman. All 4 girls had great vocals and acted their parts to perfection, Amelia stood out with a stunning vocal ability well above her years – well done to all 4 girls.
Alfie Austin was a strong yet characteristically slimy Weselton, perfect for the part. Seb Mckie was a joy to watch as Oaken, owning the stage with a cheeky and confident characterization and had a lovely singing voice to match. The Trolls would feature prominently in Act Two and led by Anna Spencer and Lucie Bell gave us a great rendition of Fixer Upper, I was particularly impressed with their projection in the middle of a large Chorus number.
Mollie Pinkney played the loveable Kristoff and had a great connection with both Anna and her trusty companion Sven. Phoebe Morris as Sven was brilliant to watch, completely in character she gave us so much energy throughout as this loveable character.
Every Frozen needs a good Olaf, and in Jake Shaw DAPA had clearly found not just a good one but a brilliant one. Quick one liners, great visual acting ability and a lovely voice when the stage became a flurry of colour during “In Summer” – a masterclass in character acting from a young performer.
Chloe Mitchell took on the baddy of the show Hans and it was a real skill to show the contrast between the young loveable Prince and the villain in the latter stages, Chloe showed a great relationship with Anna in key scenes and the duet and dance routine in Love is an Open Door gave both her and Camryn Mason, as Anna, the chance to show off their vocal and dance ability.
Camryn gave us a truly confident performance as Anna, great acting ability showing a great connection with all of her co-stars and it was lovely to see her interaction with Elsa develop through the show.
Madison Parkinson took on the incredibly tricky role of Elsa for the Saturday shows and she was exceptional. A Great stage presence and in character from the very 1st scene this was a performance well above her years, she held the audience and the big hit “Let It Go” was sublime. I have heard many adults attempt and fail at this song, it is this hard, yet Madison wowed the whole audience and even managed the lightning quick costume change in the middle of the number. A fantastic showing from a young performer who I expect to see big things from in the future.
Unfortunately, I was only able to attend one of the cast’s showings but based on this I am sure the Sunday group will have also wowed their audience.
Looking at the programme it is great to see so many parents involved backstage in this production and huge praise must go to both them and the direction of Joanne and Paul. The entrances were precise, everyone knew their roles on and off stage and the pace of the show never once dropped.
For anyone interested in their children getting involved in musical theatre, based on this I can highly recommend DAPA. Every child was beaming from cheek to cheek and their confidence was so refreshing to watch. Thank you to you all for a lovely evening and I am already excited to watch your next show Annie, next week.