Frozen Jr. presented by St. Mary’s School coming to the Esplanade

St. Mary’s School’s next production, Frozen Jr., will be opening at the Esplanade on March 10.

Grade 9 student Grace Pollard is playing Olaf, the friendly snowman created by characters Elsa and Anna when they are children. Elsa rebuilds it when she gets her powers and they stumble upon Olaf and he becomes a part of the journey and the family.

“He’s a fun-loving character and he’s kind of in his own world,” said Pollard.

Pollard played two parts in last year’s production of Matilda. She says she loves performing and knew from a young age she had a thing for the arts. Until moving to Medicine Hat more than five years ago from Evansburg, a hamlet one hour outside of Edmonton, her drama experience was limited.

“I’ve had a really great time, it’s fun working with everybody and it’s a great production,” she said.

Olaf in this production is a puppet and Pollard said carrying him is challenging as it’s quite heavy and hard to walk around with. There are feet attached to her shoes and stick arms she controls. Pollard can’t see what is happening and had to do lots of practicing before getting on stage.

“I’ve definitely improved with singing and being comfortable going on stage,” said Pollard. “Last year I was really nervous but now I know how it works and I’m more confident going in front of people.”

Joshua Hansford is in Grade 8 and plays Kristoff.

“He’s this loner type. His best friend is a reindeer named Sven and they were raised by troll people in the mountains,” said Hansford. “He’s a bit of a tough guy. Throughout most of the show he doesn’t do much smiling or dancing, it’s all seriousness and trying to help the princess.”

Kristoff is a bit stiff when he first meets the princess, Anna, but eventually he becomes somewhat relaxed. Hansford feels that by the end of the production, his character is able to smile more and is happier as he’s found his place and been welcomed into the castle. The most challenging part of the production for Hansford was learning how to play “Reindeers are Better than People” on guitar.

“I feel like I’ve learned how to connect more with other people in the show and how to bring it together, not as just lines but as an actual scene. Last year, when I said my lines in Matilda, it felt more broken off. I feel this year we’ve come together a bit better,” said Hansford.

Auditions for the production happened in September and the entire cast and crew have been working on it all year. The creative team working on scenes, props, hair makeup, direction, and music is made up of teachers and students.

“It’s exciting to get them (students) hands-on in a different aspect other than being on stage performing,” said drama teacher Kayla Lukacs. “They get to see how the Esplanade works behind the scenes and be a part of that.”

St. Mary’s will be performing Frozen Jr. at the Esplanade on Friday, March 10 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 11 at 11 a.m. Tickets are $15 and are available from the Esplanade website.

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News