Michael Grandage’s magical musical production has opened at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
The plot of Frozen probably requires little introduction, but for those unfamiliar it focuses on sisters Elsa (Samantha Barks) and Anna (Stephanie McKeon), who are princesses of Arendelle. Following Elsa’s ascension to the throne she accidentally casts a spell confining Arendelle to perpetual winter; she creates an ice palace in which to hide, living out a life of solitude. Her sister Anna sets out alongside mountaineer Kristoff (Obioma Uguola) on a mission to save Arendelle and its people.
The musical rendition largely follows the plot of the film although there are notable differences. In order to push Let It Go back to the act one closing number, a lot more time is spent on character development at the start of the show; we gain a greater insight into Elsa and Anna during the formative years of their relationship. It does make the first half feel like a bit of a slow burn; while moving the show’s signature song to a more prominent place makes sense, it feels a bit too much like padding. We also thought that, in order to focus the narrative firmly on the two sisters, some prominent characters in the film are relegated to peripheral supporting roles here.
When the show gets going, however, it really does impress. The recently-refurbished Theatre Royal Drury Lane looks stunning, and this musical is full of gorgeous set-pieces. We won’t spoil the Let It Go moment, but suffice to say the mid-song spontaneous applause on press night during a particular reveal is entirely justified – we’re still not quite sure how they manage it. There are regular “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience as set changes reveal pretty scene after pretty scene. An impossibly-large bridge emerges from… somewhere. There’s just so much here for the eyes to enjoy – it truly is a visual feast.
There are some really wonderful musical moments, too. We particularly enjoyed sentient snowman Olaf (brought to life by the singing, dancing and puppetry skills of Craig Gallivan) delivering his In Summer set piece – it had us grinning from ear to ear with its sheer silliness. The opening of act two, which sees Anna and her companions visit a trading post to learn about Hygge, provides another moment of comic respite with a tongue-in-cheek song-and-dance routine which really made us laugh.
We enjoyed our evening with Frozen the Musical – it’s not on the same sort of epic blockbuster scale as other Disney shows such as The Lion King, and those expecting the same may feel slightly underwhelmed. But it’s still a very pretty looking show, full of magic and featuring some great songs. While we felt that not all of the additional content was strictly necessary, and a few minutes trimmed here or there wouldn’t have gone amiss, the moments of magic more than made up for this. It’s a charming theatrical treat which is sure to make audience members feel all warm and fuzzy as they leave the theatre.
GAY TIMES gives Frozen the Musical – 4/5
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