Frosty, Emerald City Theatre Company, at the Apollo Theater. If you’ve ever seen Lifeline’s theater for children, you know how meticulously crafted and intelligently executed the genre can be. But Emerald City’s Frosty may confirm many of your worst preconceptions of kids’ shows.

Alyn Cardarelli and Steve Goers’s musical recasts the magical birth of Frosty the Snowman as a third-grade science experiment: Samantha wants to prove she can bring a snowman to life. Prepubescent meddlers Sidney and Worm are out to foil her attempt–or at least steal the credit for themselves. The title character, however, has no story of his own and little stake in the action, spending most of his time marching around and acting goofy. Nothing seems to threaten him, not even heated indoor environments.

Director Ann Filmer operates well below her normal standard: her cast overacts, mugs, and generally condescends to the audience for a cloying hour of desperate entertainment. The actors seem perpetually unsettled, engaging in endless, overbroad stage business; given the simple material, their singing is inexplicably meek and hesitant. Fortunately Craig C. Thompson as Frosty has charm to spare, and his simple, gleeful innocence casts the kind of spell that the rest of this ham-handed production cannot.