Adventure Theatre: Frosty the Snow Man

  • playing at Adventure Theatre MTC (Glen Echo, MD)
  • dates: now through December 31, 2017
  • directed by Jason Schlafstein
  • Roar Score: 4/5

The holidays are coming. At the theater, that typically means A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker. This year, though, Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park (just outside of Washington, DC) is staging a performance of Frosty the Snow Man instead.

Technically, this version of Frosty is based simply on the traditional song and not on any pre-existing version. However, it is heavily influenced by the classic Rankin/Bass animated special. That show, which has been a staple of the holiday season since 1969, is obviously a powerhouse of nostalgia, so it makes sense to draw on it for inspiration.

At Adventure Theatre, Frosty comes to life thanks to the magic hat and helps a group of four kids make the most of a snow day. Dallas Tolentino brings an amazing gift of athleticism to the role of Frosty, which is not something you’d typically expect from a snowman.

So . . . why?

The script for the play consists of only about 20 minutes’ worth of dialogue, so the remainder of the one-hour runtime is composed of songs, dance routines, roller skating, and gymnastic routines. It’s the most physical performance we’ve ever seen at Adventure Theatre, and that alone brings the show alive. I mean, the show has a fight choreographer, for cryin’ out loud.

All of that added material, while exciting and fun to watch, also means that there’s not much story here. Basing the show on a song with only two or three verses will do that.

The parallels with the animated special do help. There’s a bumbling traffic cop (Officer Bump), played by Matthew Aldwin McGee, who expertly channels his inner Christopher Walken. A train factors into the plot. There’s a cranky adult who eventually recognizes Frosty’s magic. And the adventures the kids have with Frosty are similar.

Alas, though, there’s no Karen, no Professor Hinkle, no Hocus Pocus, and no Santa Claus.

But this staging of Frosty the Snow Man isn’t supposed to be the Rankin/Bass version. And I know that comparing the two is unfair. Adventure Theatre’s version is a lot of fun and, judging by the kids’ reactions from our full house performance, it hits its target audience perfectly.

The set is also incredibly charming, re-creating a snowy street scene in an imaginary version of Glen Echo Park. The park’s historic and signature entrance sign features prominently in the set, and it’s enough to make you wish the park outside the theater (which was DC’s premiere amusement park for more than 50 years) retained more than just the facades of years gone by.

This is a wonderful show and well worth your time this holiday season.

Frosty the Snow Man is playing at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park (7300 MacArthur Blvd in Glen Echo, MD) through December 31, 2017. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 301-634-2270.

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