Riverton native returns with Disney’s ‘Frozen’ bringing Broadway back to the Eccles TheaterNov 02, 2021 12:07PM ● By Tom Haraldsen
Caroline Innerbichler, left, as Anna and Caroline Bowman as Elsa with the company of Disney’s ‘Frozen,’ opening at Eccles Theater on Oct. 26. (Photo by Deen van Meer for Disney Theatrical Productions)
By Tom Haraldsen | [email protected]
Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher, and Zions Bank Broadway at the Eccles are presenting "Frozen," the Tony®-nominated Best Musical, in an exclusive 3 -week engagement at The Eccles Theater from Oct. 26 to Nov. 13. Opening night was set for Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Among the ensemble cast is Riverton native Michael Milkanin, who plays both Oaken and Bishop in this production that marks the return of Broadway Across America to Eccles after an 18-plus month hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Milkanin can’t wait to get back to his home state, both as a performer and a Utahn.
“This is a magical production, and we’re all so happy to be back on stage and performing before live audiences again,” he said during a telephone interview from Minneapolis, where the musical will close on Oct. 20 before heading for Utah. “It kind of feels like I’ve come full circle from my days in middle school and then at Riverton High School, and I’m so grateful for the chance to come home and perform in front of friends and family.”
This production was shut down in March of 2020 in Portland, and the cast finally resumed rehearsals last August before resuming the tour in Buffalo in September. Now the cast, crew and 18 semi trucks of costumes, sets, and props will make their way to Salt Lake City.
"Frozen" stars Caroline Bowman as “Elsa” and Caroline Innerbichler as “Anna,” the sisters at the heart of the joy-filled musical. Joining them are principal cast members Austin Colby (Bowman’s husband) as “Hans,” F. Michael Haynie as “Olaf,” Mason Reeves as “Kristoff,” Robert Creighton as “Weselton,” Collin Baja and Evan Strand alternating as “Sven,” as well as Natalia Artigas (“Young Elsa”), Olivia Jones (“Young Anna”) and real-life sisters Natalie Grace Chan (“Young Elsa”) and Victoria Hope Chan (“Young Anna”).
"Frozen" has been created for the stage by an award-winning team and features the songs you know from the original Oscar®-winning film, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters, Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez and EGOT winner Robert Lopez. By the end of 2021 there will be five productions of "Frozen" around the world, including Australia, Japan, London and Hamburg. The musical completed its Broadway run in March 2020 after breaking four house records at The St. James Theatre.
“When we first closed down in Portland, we were told that maybe we’d be back in about four weeks,” Milkanin recalled. “We thought it was like an expanded vacation. But obviously it grew way beyond that.”
Many cast members and crew were forced to figure out their own paths, as Broadway performers were classified as “non-essential” by the government.
“Some pivoted into real estate or other professions where they had skills or interests,” Milkanin said. “I was fortunate enough to teach dance at Utah Valley University as an adjunct professor. We were all so overjoyed when we got the call to return to rehearsals and resume our tour.”
Milkanin worked at Lagoon in their productions, as well as studied Musical Theatre at BYU before heading to New York City in 2014. He performed on Broadway in "Kinky Boots," as well as on tours of that show and "Bat Out of Hell." He was also on regional tours for "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Who’s Tommy." It took him four months of lengthy audition processes to hook up with Disney Theatrical, performing as a singer, dancer, and screen actor. He truly loves "Frozen" and the cast he’s a part of that’s coming to Eccles.
“Everyone loves Caroline Bowman as Elsa and Caroline Innerbichler as Anna—we call them CB and CI,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a blast to be part of this and connect with the whole cast.”
And in the audience during the Eccles run will be many who he said “have been there for me all along the way. My high school teacher, my middle school dance teacher, and of course my family. The gratitude I have for the people who’ve helped me--I’m dedicating this show to them. It’s a great way to say thank you.”
"Frozen" will perform through Nov. 13 with evening shows and some weekend matinees. For information, visit FrozenTheMusical.com/Tour, Facebook and Instagram.