The man behind the moves of ‘Frozen, Jr.’

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Ethan Whatmore, standing right, works with the cast of “Frozen, Jr.” during a rehearsal on the stage of the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall earlier this week.

Ethan Whatmore grew up involved in Hawaii Children’s Theatre. He participated in the “Summer Stars” program. He was in the fall musicals. He took part in the “After Dark” productions.

“And now, I work here,” said the 2016 Kapaa High School graduate.

Whatmore is the choreographer for HCT’s “Frozen, Jr.” that opens at 7 tonight and has shows at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.

So when you see those crisp, clean dance numbers by the cast of about 50 students ages 8 to 15, when you notice those precise turns and lines, this is the person who helped make it happen.

“I like to make every number look different so I’ve had to teach them a variety of all different kinds of steps,” Whatmore said. “I really tried to push the envelop with these guys, because they have so much potential.

“And they’ve definitely been living up to expectations and exceeding it at times, too,” he added.

Whatmore is attending Western Washington University, where he is studying dance. He returned home this summer just to work with HCT.

While he has orchestrated dance numbers before, this is his first full-time gig being responsible for a show’s choreography.

“Never something on this scale,” he said.

Director Rebecca Hanson offers guidance and ideas, which Whatmore appreciates.

He said he loves sharing his passion for theater.

“It made such a huge impact on my life,” he said. “It helped me find my career path. It taught me so many useful skills I use every day in my life. I hope to give that back to the children of Kauai. It just means more than the world to me.”

And how are those keiki in “Frozen, Jr.” doing with opening night finally here?

Whatmore is confident they will shine on stage.

“The kids are good. They’re focused and picking up steps,” he said. “They’ve just been improving every single day, and it’s so wonderful to see.”

Wanna go?

The Hawaii Children’s Theatre’s “Summer Stars” program presents ‘Frozen, Jr.’ at 7 tonight and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall. Tickets are $10in advance and $12 at the door. Today’s TGIF incorrectly stated Saturday’s showtime. Info: www.HawaiiChildrensTheatre.org, 246-8985

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Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.

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