HARLINGEN — “The only frozen heart around here is yours!” snapped Anna.
“Ouch!” cried out Hans, played by Nicholas Allex, as Anna, played by Nadia Vento, stomped on his foot with the heel of her shoe.
“Ooooooh!” said the crowd of kids at the second showing of “Frozen” at the HCISD Performing Arts Center. The kids at yesterday morning’s performance cheered as mean Hans, aka Nicholas, limped offstage, his shiny green cape fluttering about.
The Lee H. Means Elementary Fine Arts Academy presented a stellar performance yesterday. More than 30 kids demonstrated their capacity to sing, dance and climb stairs at the same time. All this while negotiating through the falling snow and colored fog whirling about them.
This would be a complicated ensemble of activities for a cast of any age — but none of these kids were older than fifth grade.
“It’s hard to believe that this is an elementary school production,” said Lee Ann Ince, coordinator of fine arts for the Harlingen school district. She, like many, was breathless with admiration for what the kids had just done.
“Some of these kids in the show range from five years old to fifth graders,” Ince said. “And they’re handling themselves like Broadway professionals.”
The musical tells the story of two sisters who are dealing with old grievances and trying to heal. Basically, it’s a love story. But the kids and their directors took a simple and universal theme and turned it into something unique. It was a gala display of colorful and eye-catching costumes and huge voices taking flight from young hearts.
Anna’s sister Elsa, played by Bianca Rios, 10, strolled about in her glittery amber dress engaging in rigorous conversation with her sister in a bright maroon cape. Nearby stood Javier Cabello-Corona, dressed as Kristoff the Ice Harvester, and a sharp little reindeer.
And then there were the trolls, trolls everywhere, nasty adorable things all green and brown and naughty looking. They gallivanted about the stage with a sort of mindless yet calculated energy while Nadia and Bianca sang their hearts out. And that singing was no small task.
“The most challenging part is the singing part,” said Nadia, 10, a fifth grader at Lee Means.
“I think I have a very low voice and Anna, she has a very high and excited voice,” she said. “I think that it was just a little hard to get some of the notes right and just make it seem, you know, I’m Anna.”
She thanked a music coach at Sam Houston Elementary for giving her some voice lessons.
“It really helped me get through those notes and now I’m able to do them,” she said.
Bianca didn’t have it easy either.
“The more challenging part for me was the singing because I have a bunch of songs to sing,” said Bianca, a fifth grader.
“It’s kind of hard because they are all high notes but I knew that I could do it,” she said.
And that she did, throughout the show, creating one magical moment after another as she astounded her audience with a glow and an aura seldom found on any stage. At one point, with the snow falling all about her, she walked effortlessly up a set of stairs and sang as it turned around slowly.
Everyone clapped, and she and the other actors appreciated the audience’s response.
“It was amazing,” said Bianca. “The crowd was unbelievable. I really loved the show today, but it’s going to get better and better until the last show.”
Nadia likewise felt good about the day’s performance. She’s really enjoying her character.
“What I’ve enjoyed most about this character is she’s very goofy and she’s very playful,” Nadia said. “Even though she’s a princess, she still wants to be free and be who she is.”
Nicholas likewise enjoyed playing a different kind of character than any of his previous performances. Hans, his character, starts out very gallant and charming, but then his meanness shows its ugly face, which is why everyone cheered when Anna stomped on his foot.
“It’s fun,” said the fourth-grader with a mischievous grin. “For the first time I get to be bad.”
What was the most challenging part of his role?
“Probably being evil,” said Nicholas, 10. “My mom and Mrs. Navarro and Mrs. Ince told me what to do.”
Ince commended Sally Cavazos Navarro, director of fine arts, for her success with the kids.
“She has a fabulous team,” Ince said. “It truly takes a village to put a show like this together. There are so many technical elements to this show which makes it really hard for the actors and actresses to adapt.”
Navarro was excited about the kids’ success.
“It’s a very techy show so it was hard to train the kids through that,” Navarro said. “But most of them have already been trained so it was easy for them to adapt.”
Like anyone with talent, they had their down moments.
“Sometimes they would cry and sometimes they would say, ‘I don’t think I can do it,’” she said. “But then they never gave up.”
If You Go
WHERE: HCISD Performing Arts Center
3217 Wilson Road
WHEN: Today at 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 at 2:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
TICKETS: $5 for students
$10 for general admission
Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.hcisdpa.org/