Disney’s 2013 hit film FROZEN has been a cultural favorite for the past decade, spawning a 2017 live Broadway musical, and a 2019 national tour, and a film sequel. The Broadway musical became a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the national tour continues to spread Disney magic, now bringing summer snow showers to Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre. Original company member Tyler Jimenez talked with Baltimore OUTloud about his long tenure with the musical and the moments that warm his heart in this interview abridged for clarity.
Did you see FROZEN on Broadway before being cast in the tour?
No, actually. I’d obviously seen the movie back in 2013, but I had not seen the stage show at all.
What’s it been like to have stayed on the same tour for so long? You’re part of the original 2019 touring company.
It’s been wild but really magical. With a long-running show, there’s bound to be changes, there’s bound to be ebbs and flows and growth. It’s a really cool cycle to see. I was on another tour earlier in my life that was only a year, so I got a taste of that, but this has been a really huge process starting in 2019, opening the show, and feeling so excited.
And obviously, there was a huge pandemic in there. Then we were shut down for over a year. That was really hard. I couldn’t work. Luckily, Disney was really wonderful and said, “You will be able to tour, you will have your jobs back, you don’t have to re-audition, just rest assured we’ve got you.”
So coming back was beautiful in so many ways because we were still in the throes of COVID in 2021 but we weren’t as scared. So telling this story about battling fear and using love to lead the way – our first performance back was for healthcare workers – it’s a really beautiful and emotional show. It’s been incredible to see it living and breathing for the past four years.
You play Pabbie troll. How has your interpretation of the role changed over time? What new things have you discovered?
When I first got the role, I focused a lot on the responsibility that Pabbie has and the power he has to try to help and heal, and the weight of that. I think I was very concerned with the maturity of Pabbie; in my opinion, he’s 100 years old, he’s wise, and he’s communicating with all these different deities.
Now, in addition to that I’ve really started to lean more into that he’s a goofy dad. He embarrasses Kristoff and he’s excited for him and it’s all about love. I honestly think of him as Dustin Hoffman in Meet the Fockers, which is so hyper-specific, but the dad is so fiercely proud while also real and loving.
The trolls in general take on a different form in the stage musical than they do in the movie. Can you talk more about that and what it means?
We’re trolls in the movie; in the musical, we are foresty, hidden folk. We’re mystical, we’re ethereal. An associate director and I talked at length about this and at the same time, they are still humanoid. So it’s been fun to find the balance of the mystical versus the human.
Happy pride! How are you and the company celebrating?
Happy pride! Within our show, I am part of a pair. We’re EDI ambassadors. Jenna Dosch is my counterpart and we have landed on a fundraising campaign that we’re going to start in Memphis for a nonprofit charity called Prince George’s. They have drag performances, original comedy, and all their proceeds go to local LGBTQIA organizations that need it most. So I am currently arranging for this and I’m very excited about it. We wanted to run the Baltimore Pride 5K, but it’s the week after we leave which is a bummer.
One main difference about a show like this is having more kids in the audience. Since we’re all about indoctrinating children, what is the one indoctrination you hope kids take away from FROZEN?
This show has so many messages that relate to everyone, but especially any marginalized community and especially the queer community. It sounds so cheesy, but really, lead with love. Let go of this fear of being other, of fear of another. If you lead with love and compassion, then you can thaw anyone’s heart. It’s so cheesy, but it’s real. There’s so much fear and need for control right now that is not necessary.
Do you have any favorite audience stories to share?
It’s really special. I have four niblings, three nieces, and one nephew. Whenever they get to come to a show, the oldest is five, it’s really sweet to see how excited they get understanding that we are actors putting on a show and it’s fun to see them realize the duality of that. Them running up to me after a show always warms my heart.
FROZEN is on stage at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre June 7-18. Disney on Broadway performances are recommended for a general audience. As an advisory to adults who might bring young people, Disney recommends its productions for ages 6 and up. Children under the age of 2 will not be admitted to FROZEN performances. All persons entering the theater, regardless of age, must have a ticket.
Tickets are available online at https://baltimore.broadway.com/.
Cover Photo: Lauren Nicole Chapman as Anna and Company.
Frozen North American Tour. Photo by Matthew Murphy. ©Disney
Theatre Writer for Baltimore OUTloud.
Bekah is a Baltimore-based ally who is obsessed with all things Broadway. In addition to written reviews, she creates social media theatre content @broadwaybekahchica. When she’s not at a show or organizing her Playbills, you can find her rehearsing with the New Wave Singers of Baltimore, enjoying stoop night with friends, or snuggled up with her husband and pets.
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