© Disney, photography by Trevor Leighton
Frozen the Musical: A spectacle like no other!
It is no surprise that the animated Disney phenomenon Frozen (2013), which amassed over $1 billion at box offices worldwide, has been turned into a stage musical. And after it’s songs were tirelessly sung by children and families around the globe, it seemed like the logical next step. But can the film that seemed to relight Disney’s success translate as magically to stage as it seemed to on screen?
Showing at the Drury Lane Theatre, it’s recent £60 million extraordinary refurbishment appears a fitting venue for the production. As you enter the theatre, it’s apparent that the grandeur of it’s previous years has been delicately restored, leaving you a little breathless at the magnificence of this building. The spectacle that is Frozen the Musical has certainly found it’s perfect home.
Having seen the show on Broadway during it’s early months, I was excited to experience what I had remembered to be a very well done film-to-musical adaptation. But my memory had clearly failed to remind me how outstanding this show really was. From the extravagant set and costumes that changed with every scene, meticulously designed by Christopher Oram and built in the UK, to the additional songs that were just as memorable as the original score, written by Frozen creators Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, I am positive that the musical will attract theatregoers whether they are fans of the film or not.
Furthermore, the effects that appear around every corner ensure the magic of the film lives on in musical form. Particularly during the hit song Let it Go, when Elsa makes the transition from a timid, held-back young woman, to a confident and powerful Queen, are perfectly accompanied by Jeremy Chernick’s outstanding special effects design, where if you blink, you will miss it.
Samantha Barks (Les Miserablés, Pretty Woman) takes on the role of Elsa, and she does so with grace and poise. Her extensive range and euphonious voice allows her to bring the songs to life with ease, whilst her ability to encourage the audience to want to assist during her turmoil shows the realism of her performance.
Stephanie McKeon (The Commitments, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) plays her optimistic sister Anna, and she is every bit as energetic, daring and ditsy as the film. McKeon breathes an air of exuberance onto stage and is every bit as ‘Anna’ as you would want her to be. A special mention goes to Summer Betson who played Young Anna during this performance (Saturday 4th September) for her impeccable comedic timing and was very much the younger version of McKeon’s.
Craig Gallivan (School of Rock, Billy Elliot) has the difficult task of creating the much-loved character of Olaf. Dressed up as the human version of him, Gallivan seems the master of puppets as he manipulates an Olaf on strings but does so with such authenticity, you forget he is a puppeteer. Ashley Birchall and Mikayla Jade have arguably the most physically tiresome role in the show inside the costume of Sven the reindeer. Although the character is only onstage for around forty minutes during the entire performance, they are both inside the suit on all fours, planking for up to seven minutes at a time, but seem to do so effortlessly.
With all of the talent, effects, costumes and scenery, I can say with certain that no magic is lost in this adaptation. In fact, I would say there is so much gained experiencing this live on stage at this beautiful venue, even bigger and brighter than Broadway. Live theatre is most certainly back, and the West End would be crazy to ever let this one go.
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