Review: ‘Frosty the Snowman’ at Adventure Theatre MTC

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Adventure Theatre MTC presents Frosty the Snowman, written by William Francis, with additional dialogue and lyrics Jason Schlafstein and Kenny Neal. Schlafstein also directs this production alongside musical director Wayne Chadwick.

Dallas Tolentino as Frosty in Frosty the Snowman. Photo by Sarah Straub.

Frosty is based on the classic Christmas carol written by Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson, and was recorded in 1950. This is around the same time that Glen Echo Park was living its heyday as a popular amusement park, and where Scenic Designer Jos B. Musumeci Jr. sets the stage. Though it’s not plainly stated, dated set pieces such as an old-fashioned telephone pole and traffic light suggest this decade, as do props designed by Andrea Moore and costume pieces by Sydney Moore.

The set is beautiful but simple, as the actors need ample space for their dance numbers. Much of the atmosphere comes from the technical team. Lighting Designer Brian S, Allard uses speckled blues and snowflake projections to create the perfect snow day, while Composer and Sound Designer Kenny Neal’s cheerful music and effects help guide the plot. Special Effects Designer Andrew Berry provides my personal favorite element of the show; fluttering snowflakes swirling down from the sky.

The story is a simple and nostalgic one: after friends Charley (Taylor Witt) and Joey (Hasani Allen) build a snowman together, a day of revelry unfolds when they find an old silk hat that brings the snowman to life when placed on his head. Frosty (Dallas Tolentino) bolts around the stage like a hyperactive puppy, fascinated by his new surroundings and thrilled by a large bell in the center of the town, which he rings with endless enthusiasm.

Dallas Tolentino in Frosty the Snowman. Photo by Sarah Straub.

This noisy newcomer does not go unnoticed by sour-faced Mrs. Armbruster (Farrell Parker), who enlists the help of the bumbling Officer Bump (Matthew Aldwin McGee) to catch and detain the mischief-maker. Charley and Joey are joined by their friends Geraldine (Julia Klavans) and Mary Ann (Jordan Lee), and together they must keep Frosty safe (a tall order, seeing how Frosty is a loud, large, living snowman who likes to sing and dance.)

What sets this particular production apart from similar holiday shows is the movement. Fight Director Jonathan Ezra Rubin stages impressive, acrobatic leaps and bounds through snowball fights and chases. We also soon find out that all of the cast members are accomplished, professional dancers. Artistic Director Michael J. Bobbitt choreographs the numbers, in which we see influences from all over; ballet, break-dancing, and stomp, to name just a few. I particularly enjoyed a fun number that has them all dancing while wearing roller-blades, which is as exciting as it is technically impressive. Tolentino, in particular, gets several gasps from the audience with his daring moves. The dancing is a real joy to watch, and really helps stir up some holiday cheer!

Adventure Theatre MTC is known for delivering exciting professional children’s theatre productions such as Frosty. I have but one grievance, which is that entering and exiting the venue is stressful. The climbing popularity of Adventure Theatre MTC at times proves too much for the intimate space. Audience members are squished into a large, chaotic horde before the house finally opens, into which we spill onto the raised benched seating and feverishly try to find seats. We are then encouraged to “squish together” even more until we are cramped into the benches like sardines in a can. By this time, many of us are not in the best mood. While the show itself is fantastic, the seating situation is not. I do hope that the team at Adventure can start brainstorming ways to streamline the process. That being said, if you don’t mind enduring a few uncomfortable minutes, the show is great fun.

Adventure Theatre MTC’s Frosty the Snowman is just the ticket for an afternoon of family fun–grab yours before he melts away!

Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes, without an intermission.

Frosty the Snowman plays through December 31, 2017, at Adventure Theatre MTC– 7300 MacArthur Blvd (Glen Echo Park), Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call (301) 634-2270, or purchase them online.