Frozen (Capitol) – musical theatre review

The magic of Disney is alive and well … and thriving, if Frozen, The Musical is anything to go by. It is the perfect blend of humour, emotion and theatrics, and brings to life the story of sisters separated by a potentially deadly curse. The musical has been adapted from the Disney film and the original 1844 fairy tale The Snow Queen by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.

Elsa (Jemma Rix) is the first born of two daughters to the reigning monarchs of Arendelle, the other being Anna (Courtney Monsma). Anna is a real live wire – a bundle of energy. She enjoys the company of her sister and playing with her. That includes the late-night antics of building a snow man who she names Olaf (Matt Lee), which Elsa sprinkles with fairy dust. In fact, those silver sparkles are just one of her powers.

Photos by Lisa Tomasetti

The most overwhelming is that she is seemingly unable to control the ability to freeze others – literally. An incident with six-year-old Anna confirms that and with the approval of her parents Elsa vows to separate herself from the world, and that includes her beloved sister. After the King and Queen unexpectedly pass away, Elsa has to bide her time before she is anointed as the head Royal – an event she is dreading, because it will again bring her into contact with many from the kingdom and beyond.

Meanwhile, Anna doesn’t understand why Elsa has cut her off. She dreams of romance and love … and before you know it, she seemingly meets the man of her dreams – the 13th son of the King of a very small island to the South. He is known as Hans of the Southern Isles (Thomas McGuane). Very soon, he is asking her to marry him and Anna seeks Elsa’s permission to do so and stay with her in Arendelle.

But she turns her down and as tempers flare the kingdom is turned to ice … and Elsa flees. Many more adventures ensue, as Anna – with the help of Kristoff (Sean Sinclair) and his reindeer – pursues Elsa.

Academy Award winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez have added 12 new songs just for the musical. There are 13 numbers in the first act and eight in the second. The book of the Broadway show is by Oscar winning writer Jennifer Lee, choreographed by Tony Award winner Rob Ashford and direction by fellow Tony Award winner Michael Grandage. Several of the numbers are stirring, as the story unfolds partly through the well-crafted lyrics.

Courtney Monsma is captivating as the young adult Anna. She is cheeky and sassy and sings magnificently – she has a rich, rounded vocal tone – all of which endears her to an appreciative audience. I adored Matt Lee as Olaf’s puppet master. He has a great sense of comic timing and his delivery is impeccable.

Aljin Abella revels in his role as the “diminutive”, arrogant and scheming Duke of Weselton, making him a popular villain. Elsa’s big musical number “Let It Go” comes at the end of Act I and knocks it out of the park, leaving the audience on a high for interval … with much more to come after the break. A rollicking tune – “Hygge” – at the start of Act II, featuring nude-coloured frolics and kicked off by Blake Appelqvist as high mountains, high priced, shop proprietor Oaken puts a smile on the dial.

A number of the sets are nothing short of spectacular (the scenic and costume design is by Christoper Oram). Among other locales, the solid, colourful and elegant “works of art” represent Elsa and Anna’s home in Arendelle and the ice palace Elsa creates in the North Mountain. But that is not all – magical “surprises” are in store for those who venture into the Capitol Theatre in a show that is sure to delight young and old audiences alike.

Frozen, the stage spectacular, is a wonderful showcase of all the world loves about Disney in such a setting – a vibrant, energetic, family friendly storyline meshed with wonderful, beautifully performed, ear pleasing music. It is playing at the Capitol in Sydney until 23rd May, before opening at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne on 9th June, 2021.

Alex First

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