MILWAUKEE — On a normal day, Tatyana Lubov carves out some time to pin her hair in “cinnamon bun” swirls to prep for work. The pin curls, she explained, enable her head to act like a pincushion for her wigs.
While that’s probably not how most Wisconsinites get ready for their shift, Lubov wouldn’t have it any other way.
Lubov, who hails from Cottage Grove, Wis., was born into an artistic family. Her mom was her high school choir teacher in the Magnolia Grove School District. Her dad is a producer of youth performing group, Kids from Wisconsin.
“[I have] very, very musical parents... I have an older and younger [brother]; my older one is a lighting designer for shows and a musician himself. And then my younger brother just graduated from the same college as me, majoring in theater,” she said. “So I always joke around in interviews that if I were a dentist, it would be weird, like, that would be abnormal for my family.”
Lubov’s favorite childhood memories include the likes of show choir rehearsals and Kids from Wisconsin performances. Needless to say, Lubov found herself performing in plenty of musicals growing up; most of them, she admitted, were directed by her parents.
“They would always joke that they would never get a babysitter, they would just throw their kids into the shows,” she said.
Lubov continued performing during her time at the University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point, where she got a BFA in musical theater. Soon after, she became a princess.
Lubov took on the titular role of Ella in the national touring production of “Cinderella.” Now, she sometimes gets to portray a queen.
Lubov currently performs in the ensemble of the national tour of “Frozen,” and is also the understudy for Queen Iduna. Previously, she’s been an understudy for Anna and Elsa.
She knows the show inside and out, and while she’s a big Disney fan and loves the movie “Frozen,” she said there’s nothing like real-life magic.
“What I love is when [audiences] realize it’s not a story just for kids — there’s a little bit of something for everyone,” Lubov said. “If you haven’t seen it before, people are always really blown away by the puppetry and the magic that happens on stage.”
Olaf is a puppet, controlled by an actor who audiences can see on stage. But Sven’s actor is completely inside the puppet. There are two actors who portray Sven, but they alternate shows. So, there’s only one actor inside that reindeer costume.
“A lot of times people will come out of the show and be like, ‘Wait so was that Sven two guys in the reindeer suit or was it just one guy?’ But it’s one guy who’s like planking on stilts,” she said.
And while the — quite literally — sparkling magic dazzles audiences again and again, perhaps the real magic is in the love between two sisters.
“[I hope audiences see] the strength of sisterly love or even loving yourself over having to fall in love with the prince. [A princess does not have to] fall in love with a prince,” she said. “‘Frozen,’ in the movie in general, broke boundaries.”
That sisterly love manifests itself in a duet, “I Can’t Lose You,” which was actually developed for the touring production specifically.
“One of the big things that’s unique to our stage production is that there’s now a ballad duet that’s between Anna and Elsa. When they were looking at revamping it to tour on the road in the U.S., there wasn’t really a moment where you get to see the two sisters have a song together. So they kind of workshopped that in rehearsals and it’s now the version that they use for the tour all across the world actually,” Lubov said.
Elsas and Annas perform that very song in Germany, the U.K., Tokyo and beyond.
Lubov has sang both sides of the duet, and said once in rehearsals, she actually sang Anna’s part when she was in for Elsa. Luckily, she mentioned, that’s never happened on stage.
While the royal ladies share a stage and a spotlight, Lubov said the characters are about as opposite as they come. That even comes through in the staging of the show.
“Elsa was a little scarier because the whole point of her is that she’s like isolated from everyone while she’s trying to figure out how to control her powers and feelings and what not. It was spookier doing her track because you’re just kind of alone on stage the whole time.
“Doing the Anna track, you’re constantly surrounded by people — which is comforting to be on stage when you’re not used to doing that track. But definitely more physically exhausting was the Anna track,” Lubov said.
But even as an ensemble member, Lubov said she still feels like a princess in the show. She’s got about six costumes she dawns for her five characters per show. But among all of those, plus the royal gowns she’s worn as the Queen, Elsa and Anna, her current dress for the coronation scene, she said, has to be the most beautiful dress she’s ever seen.
“I think it’s one of the prettiest dresses on stage. It’s this flowing, purple gown. All of the gowns are iridescent, so in certain lightings they come off as different colors, so it’s either like a pretty rose coppery color or a deep purple,” she said. “I was so excited to try that on when we had our dress fittings in 2019.”
Since that very first fitting to now, despite all of the roles shes taken on, she’s never had to let that dress go. And it seems as if the call to a life on stage won’t let Lubov go anytime soon, either.
“Frozen” runs at the Marcus Performing Arts Center now through April 16. Get ticket information on the Milwaukee premiere, here.