If you’re looking for a fun, heartwarming evening at the theatre then look no further than Disney’s Frozen: The Musical. Samantha Barks’s portrayal of Elsa is absolutely chilling.
While the opening number, ‘Let the Sun Shine on’, (I don’t understand why the sun would feature so heavily in a production about-well, ice) and ‘A little bit of you’, fell flat in comparison to the film’s ‘Vuelie’ and ‘Frozen Heart’, the play does put more emphasis on Anna (played by Stephanie Mckeon) and Elsa’s relationship as children, furthering our investment in the characters.
Though the writers tried to appeal more to their younger fanbase by sprinkling butt jokes throughout the production, it undermined the intelligence of every age of their audience. That being said, the opening acts did have more references to the second Frozen film, which were enjoyable for loyal fans to find as hidden easter eggs. As shown in references to their mother’s background and history with magic in the scene directly after Young Anna is struck by Young Elsa’s ice, shortly after the creation of Olaf. As a result, the trolls come into the Palace. I found this scene particularly interesting as it brings magic into the home, rather than try to remove it, as Young Elsa is more emphatic and invested in controlling her powers than fearful.
In the later scenes, on Elsa’s coronation day, Kristoff (Obioma Ugoala) is used as part of Hans’s (Oliver Ormson) introduction to Anna. A change which I liked, as it produced the sensation that Hans’s and Anna’s relationship was the result of a comedy of errors; as if Anna had just picked the wrong guy by accident. Personally, I was not a fan of Elsa’s coronation song being changed from ‘Heimr Árnadalr’ in Old Norse to English. It reduced the song to a generic coronation theme, robbing much of the magic, mysticism, and history that is woven throughout the film.
After Elsa runs away from Arendelle, Kristoff and Anna quickly team up, where Kristoff lends Anna a spare chance of clothes prior to her wardrobe change at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna. An action which makes both Anna and the audience more indebted to him as a character. This leads to the next new number of the musical, ‘What Do You Know About Love?’. This mirrors ‘Love is an Open Door’, but ultimately shifts the focus off of the ‘Love Expert’ trolls who raise Kristoff. Instead, the Trolls are simply magic experts, and Anna and Kristoff’s relationship is given more time to explore ideas of romance.
It was refreshing to have both Hans and Kristoff sing solo numbers and duets with Anna as a way to directly compare each relationship. Kristoff becomes less confident but more relatable. Whereas Hans is obviously obsessed with receiving praise and recognition as a member of royalty. In Anna’s absence, there is a heavier emphasis on how Hans amasses a following with the Kingdom of Arendelle. In the Musical his charisma is much more threatening.
Weasleton (Richard Frame) remains more or less the same character, believing Elsa to be an evil sorceress. The most controversial song in the Musical, is the addition of ‘Monster’. This is the darkest addition to the live production. Despite Samantha Bark’s incredible vocals and performance, I could not get over the impossible directness of it all. It destroys any attempt at subtly found in other versions of the story, which play with the wonderful complexity of the concept of monstrosity. Especially considering that in the Musical, Elsa surrenders to Hans rather than fights him. This undermines Hans’s perceived heroism, and Weasleton’s insistence on her villainy.
Finally, the most rewarding part of the musical is at the end, when both Anna and Kristoff ask each other if it’s okay to kiss. A satisfyingly healthy display of boundaries and consent after nearly two hours of Hans’s manipulation and control. Even with the failure of the butt jokes, Craig Gallivan’s performance of Olaf delivers humor with every line. The special effects, set design, and costumes are dripping with Disney magic. Mikayla Jade’s Sven, adds to the amazing fantasy of the story and the theatre. Naturally, Disney’s Frozen: The Musical comes highly recommended if you want to spend the rest of your evening smiling and singing a new array of Disney songs.