Did you ever wonder what happened to Frosty the Snowman after his 15 minutes of fame in the movie? Well, he took a turn for the worse. Now a depressive drug addict, Frosty has a new life in House Party Theatre’s musical Frosty: Songs of Redemption, The Musical!
House Party Theatre (HPT) has had great success with one-off plays; drinking game performances at their weekly “Thirsty Thursday” series, frequently held at The Wild Detectives; holiday parties; and even haunted houses. They will throw a play in your home if you ask them.
But this Christmas season they will reprise the original musical the troupe debuted last year. Director, librettist and HPT CEO Chris McCreary says bringing a show back is a big deal for the company. They pride themselves on putting together plays and performances on demand, which typically means very little notice, but Frosty was such a hit for HPT last year that they decided to return the show with some expansions.
Composer Jake Nice was thrilled for a chance to revive the play, his first original musical. McCreary brought the idea for a Frosty the Snowman musical to Nice and asked if he’d be interested. Nice was immediately on board, but as he started writing and working he realized there really was something to the show.
“The musical is kind of an adult exploration of what happens to our childhood heroes after their movie/song/TV special ends.”
Nice says “happily ever after” isn’t always that simple. And though the concept is silly, Frosty is forced to reconcile some of his darkness and find the true spirit of Christmas — with a rock 'n' roll soundtrack, of course. Nice was strongly influenced by rock musicals like Spring Awakening, Billy Elliot and RENT.
To compose the play, Nice started with the characters. What are they saying? What are they doing here? Then he would decide how music could continue the action of the scenes. While formulating a story through song, he also reworked Christmas classics that will be very familiar to the audience.
Nice grew up in a staunchly Evangelical Christian household. He says the music he was “spoon-fed” as a kid were sappy Christian rock songs. It wasn’t until his teen years that Nice realized how much the church was holding him back, not just musically, but emotionally.
“I started to feel deeply isolated at my church,” he says. “I kept having these terrifying existential panic attacks about going to heaven. And I became very lonely and depressed.”
As Nice began to see the real harm the church was doing, he started pushing himself out of his comfort zone — politically, socially and artistically. Which eventually led him to study theater in college. His spiritual fulfillment came easier through his music and art.
The once Evangelical Christian has now written an R-rated, irreverent take on a beloved Christmas character, but it isn’t all for shock value. The humor has meaning to Nice. Frosty has to “atone for his sins” and learn that giving to those you love is what the holiday is really about.
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Nice is also excited for the chance to return to the show and expand on it. The original production was performed in the back of Community Beer Co. and was only 45 minutes long. The reprisal is longer and has more characters and songs. And it will have a proper home in The Margo Jones Theatre.
Although Frosty is a childhood favorite, McCreary and Nice say to leave the kids at home for this production. Frosty’s unfortunate drug use, some occasional violence and a little sexual humor make it better suited for older audiences. Nice says it’s really meant for those of us who grew up with Frosty and wondered where he went after his TV special.
The late night Friday shows will immediately follow Nouveau47 Theatre’s annual A Very Nouveau Holiday show featuring short plays from local playwrights performed at the Margo Jones. Present that night’s playbill from the Nouveau47 Show at the box office and receive $5 off your Frosty ticket.
Performances for Frosty: Songs of Redemption, The Musical! are 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9; 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14; and 10:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16 at Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park, 1121 1st Ave. Tickets are $10 to $15 housepartytheatre.com.