REVIEW: Frozen the Musical, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

As much as it is visually spectacular, Frozen the Musical also has added depth to the story that makes it feel more poignant than the film.

Johan Persson (c)Disney

It has to be said this is a production that dazzles visually but it is not merely about the the appearance – there is plenty of heart to be found in the story that really keeps the audience emotionally invested.

Based on one of the most popular Disney films in recent years, Frozen the Musical follows the story of Elsa and Anna – both of whom struggle to be close to each other due to Elsa’s secret magical powers that grow in intensity over time and she can’t control – leading to an accident that has her fleeing to isolation. It is this relationship that forms the centre of this perky and heartfelt musical that completely captures the imagination.

Directed by Michael Grandage, this production is equally family friendly as it will for adults with particularly cheeky (in all senses of the word) moments of humour and playfulness – captured in the sequence for ‘Hygge’ which quite rightly offers a few giggles. In contrast to this, hearing the children’s delight when Olaf makes an appearance along with the rendition of ‘In Summer’ – acts as reminder of the sheer joy and its strong appeal to young audiences. It is also a production that moves with great pace and style.

Johan Persson (c)Disney

But it is quite clearly a team production in which every member of the creative team have managed to make a contribution to glorious effect. Rob Ashford’s choreography is beautifully classy and filled with drama – as seen in the moments in which you you see the King and Queen making their journey or the gorgeously funny duet between Hans and Anna during ‘Love is an Open Door’. Meanwhile Finn Ross’s video design, Christopher Oram’s scenic design and Jeremy Chernick’s special effects design ensures that the magic of the film is beautifully replicated from the film but in a unique way – the ‘Let it Go’ scene is absolutely stunning and worth seeing alone.

Jennifer Lee’s book and the additional songs written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez add additional depth to the original film that gives the story extra dynamic. This is particularly seen with songs such as ‘Monster’ and ‘I Can’t Lose You’ that are really showcase the inner turmoil Elsa feels, with the other showing just how deep the bond between the two sisters are even if they struggle to express it to each other – one out of fear and the other not knowing how the other is going to react. Lee’s book really gives extra depth to Elsa’s conflict of wanting to be close to her sister but the fear of hurting her outweighs it, while highlighting Anna’s hurt and confusion as to why Elsa treats her the way she does.

Johan Persson (c)Disney

It should also be noted that the cast all make their own mark on these immensely popular characters. In particular, Craig Gallivan as Olaf is wonderfully charismatic and funny throughout – ensuring that the character doesn’t simply appeal to the children watching but the adults too. Samantha Barks as Elsa really gets to the heart of the character’s torment in an understated way that is heart wrenching to watch, while her chemistry with Stephanie McKeown’s Anna makes for a delightful contrast in personalities that works really well. McKeown captures Anna’s spirit and courage with great joy – with her rendition of ‘For the First Time in Forever’ being a real highlight. Meanwhile, Obioma Ugoala as Kristoff is a wonderfully grounded – his mannerisms and reactions to Anna always guaranteed to make the audience smile, while Oliver Ormson captures the charm and ambition of Hans really well.

Overall, Frozen is set to delight audiences who grew up with the film as well as those who are coming into it new. I felt like a child by the end – filled with joy, optimism and excitement.

By Emma Clarendon

Frozen the Musical  is currently booking at the  Theatre Royal Drury Lane until the 26th June 2022. You can book tickets for the production here.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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