Call it kismet or destiny. When Caroline Innerbichler saw the Disney animated film Frozen, she connected with the character Anna, Princess of Arendelle, in a profound way, starting with her red hair in braids.
“She does look like me,” she thought, “and she’s dorky and silly like me.”
At the time, she was in a production of Fiddler on the Roof at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, in Minnesota. It was fortuitous that she and her cast mates took a break to see the movie. When she heard about Frozen the musical years later, she had to go to the open call audition in Chicago.
Did you know? Caroline Innerbichler was born in California and raised in Minnesota.
“In January of 2017, I just showed up,” she said. “I sang a song from ‘The Little Mermaid,’ and I was called back and did the final call back in Denver. We rehearsed the musical intensely in New York for weeks and there was lots of tech.”
The tour officially opened at the Pantages, in Los Angeles, in December.
“That was a big premiere,” Innerbichler says, “and it keeps growing, because this production is visually stunning and a beautiful adaptation from the film. I am thrilled to be part of this tour, because I am surrounded by an exceptional ensemble. It’s wonderfully modern theater, with classical aspects.”
Filled with sparkling costumes, sets and special effects, the North American Tour of Disney’s Frozen runs March 26 through April 12, at the Civic Theatre, in San Diego.
Innerbichler says hearing and seeing the fairytale live is an unforgettable experience.
“’Frozen’ is a compelling story that everyone can enjoy, with its universal themes, magic, and princesses,” she said by phone from Portland, “and hearing the beautiful music, with a live orchestra–well that’s another level of stunning.”
Sets and costumes are by Christopher Oram.
“The costumes are so detailed and intricate,” Innerbichler said. “I wish everyone could see them up close and touch them. They are hand-stitched with love by true artists.”
Fans of the film will know the songs by heart, especially “Let it Go,” (performed by Idina Menzel in the film).
“The composers Kristen and Robert Lopez have created music that tells the story of a family and a community,” Innerbichler says. “And we love it because it’s not vocal acrobatics. They write for actors, and there are wonderful rhythms and inflections, which lets us tell the story.”
Caroline Bowman stars as Elsa, the blonde sister with icy superpowers. Austin Colby has the role of Hans, the handsome yet dangerous heartthrob.
“They are a perfect fit, Innerbichler says, “and they are married in real life, so that makes me happy, because touring is strenuous.
”Elsa’s songs are very challenging to sing, and Caroline is the most amazing vocalist. She did Eva Peron in the opera Evita and she’s done Wicked. She’s such an expert when making choices and keeping it varied, so her musicality is divine.”
Director Michael Grandage knew Innerbichler was a good fit for the role of Anna, Elsa’s sister.
“He wants me to make the role by own,” she said, “and I am honored that he fully trusts me. I can ask questions, and I’m surrounded by a hardworking ensemble.”
It’s a magical and complicated production.
“Yes, I have Anna’s red hair, but I must give a shout-out to our crew and my wig expert, Elaine, who is the best,” says Innerbilcher with excitement. “I have nine different hairpieces, and that’s how we show progression. It’s complicated and backstage is wild, and our creative team is amazing.”
Along with Innerbichler, Bowman, and Colby, the production also stars F. Michael Haynie as Olaf, Mason Reeves as Kristoff, Jeremy Morse as Weselton, and Collin Baja and Evan Strand alternating as Sven.
Disney’s Frozen is loosely based on “The Snow Queen,” the fairytale by Danish author Hans Christiann Anderson, published in 1844, (who also penned “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”) His snowy tale has themes of good and evil, a young boy and girl who are neighbors, an evil troll mirror, a Snow Queen and a reindeer.
Award-winning choreographer Rob Ashford creates dances to tell a new fairytale through movement.
“It’s all about telling the story through spacing and blocking,” Innerbilcher says, “especially for the storm raging inside Elsa.
“This is a story about two women finding love through their family and being sisters.
“It’s especially relevant that a classic fairytale takes a twist and is female-centric. Two very different women, Elsa and Anna, are powerful through their uniqueness.
“It’s also about a community. The stage show is an ensemble piece with lots of humor, and viewers watch a community tell their story. They find leadership in a woman with gifts, and they trust her to lead.”
The North American tour also has a new duet for Anna and Elsa titled “I Can’t Lose You.”
“We debuted this new song,” Innerbilcher says, “and now Broadway does it, but we were the first. Kristen and Bobby (Lopez) wrote it, and it digs deeper into the disagreements between the sisters. We become real human beings, and the audience watches the process of being together and against each other. In the end, we realize that women are truly magical.”
Frozen the musical runs March 26 through April 12 at the Civic Theatre, in San Diego.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: As of March 12, 2020, all performances of Disney’s FROZEN in San Diego are postponed. New dates are to be determined.