Based on the popular Disney film, the musical has plenty to offer children and adults alike and brings the characters lovingly to life.
You can never accuse Disney of not ensuring that they get the right creative team together to bring their classic films to life and Frozen is certainly a testament on how much hard work and attention to detail has been paid to bring this story to the stage.
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story ‘The Snow Queen’, Frozen follows the adventures of Elsa and Anna – with one trying to keep her powers hidden from her sister and the people of her kingdom, while the other is desperate to live her life. Until one day an accident forces Elsa to flee the kingdom, leaving Anna desperately trying to find her – with the help of new friends Olaf, Sven and Christoph. Featuring all the familiar songs from the film as well as new additions, it is a heartwarming story of family and what true love really means that transforms the traditional princess falling in love with a prince narrative.
Directed with a great sense of drama and grandeur by Michael Grandage, this production is successful in the way it retains the spirit of the film and the characters while adding something new. But it is also not just for kids – it is filled with plenty of cheeky bits of humour that will get adults giggling, particularly ‘Hygge’ which comes nicely at a time to break through the tension, while Olaf’s number ‘In Summer’ certainly makes everyone no matter their age smile. Yet, Jennifer Lee’s book also gives a much stronger emotional core to the story – you really feel Elsa’s anxiety about her powers and the pressure she feels to be the best queen possible, while you can sense Anna’s yearning to be close to her sister again. As Elsa, Samantha Barks’s rendition of ‘Monster’ is a powerful moment in the show, with lyrics that some of us can possibly relate to in some form.
As you would expect, visually there is plenty to be admired. Christopher Oram’s gorgeous set design, which elegantly transports audiences from the kingdom of Arandelle to Elsa’s ice castle with great detail but also with great practicality as well. While you can see the film’s influences, it also feels refreshingly original. This is certainly one of my favourite shows in terms of the set design. Oram’s costumes as well are luxurious and capture all of the characters perfectly. This combined with Finn Ross’s video design, Neil Austin’s lighting design and Jeremy Chernick’s special effects ensure there is plenty of magic throughout that brings out the child in all of us – perfectly captured in the iconic number ‘Let it Go’ which is amazingly staged.
Another aspect of the production worth mentioning is Rob Ashford’s glorious choreography, which is by turns classy and playful – as seen through numbers such as during the duet between Hans and Anna during ‘Love is an Open Door’ or ‘ For the First Time in Forever’ for example.
The cast of course are all excellent in bringing the beloved characters to life. Samantha Barks beautifully captures Elsa’s fear and anxieties with sensitivity that you really feel for her while her renditions of ‘Dangerous to Dream’ and ‘Let it Go’ are extraordinary. She is nicely matched with Stephanie McKeown’s Anna – who is delightfully perky and comical in a way that makes you smile every time you see her, but also highlights her courage in the face adversity. In turn Obioma Ugoala as Kristoff is a joy to watch as he attempts to dissuade Anna from going after her sister – his duet with McKeown ‘What Do You Know About Love?’ perfectly captures their contrast in outlook in life.
Filled with plenty of fun from start to finish, Frozen the musical is a spectacular production that will leave you with a smile on your face and eager to return to Arendelle.
By Emma Clarendon