Frozen The Musical (Theatre Royal Drury Lane) - Review
Updated: Apr 28, 2022
They say that three is the magic number, and for Disney, three is the number spreading magic all over the glittering West End with The Lion King, Mary Poppins, and now Frozen delighting audiences of all ages. Over the years, Disney theatrical have pushed the boundaries of what can be done on stage when it comes to special effects, with The Lion King leading the way in terms of puppetry and Mary Poppins proving to be a shining example of special effects, but when it comes to Frozen, it would seem that Disney has taken everything that it has learnt about stagecraft over the years and pushed it to the extremes of incredible.
Based on the smash hit 2013 movie of the same name, Frozen tells the tale of royal sisters Elsa (Samantha Barks) and Anna (played at this performance by Sarah O’Conner). Elsa, born with magical powers of snow and ice, struggles to control her strength and as she comes of age and takes her place as Arendelle’s queen, the pressure becomes too much, and her powers are secret no more. Can Anna save the kingdom and her sister before it is too late?
On this Easter Sunday evening performance, the role of Anna was played by Sarah O’Conner, and she made the role her own with a sense of innocence and laughter, making it clear that she was loving every minute as she celebrated her 50thperformance in the role. Anna is a wonderfully optimistic person, desperate to see the good in others at all times, even when faced with the danger of an eternal winter. Alongside Barks as Elsa, the pair are formidable, entirely convincing as siblings in both the lighter humorous moments and the darker scenes.
Anyone who knows Frozen will, of course, know of the iconic song ‘Let It Go’, the song that most probably drove the majority of parents crazy when the film was first released but on stage it is a moment that is looked forward too with Samantha Barks raising the roof with her rendition. Barks oozes both the glamour and the power of this royal role, delighting in interacting with the wonderful special effects and truly showcasing the character’s emotional turmoil as she plays with the ideas of staying isolated forever against going home and reuniting with Anna.
Obioma Ugoala’s Kristoff is a crowd pleaser, bringing the sarcasm and fun side of the ice seller that we see in the film to the stage with ease whilst creating a believable relationship with O’Conner’s Anna with plenty of cheeky banter. Act 2 number ‘Fixer Upper’ sees Ugoala’s Kristoff come into his own, along with his powerful reprise of ‘What Do You Know About Love’. Oliver Ormson plays the role of Prince Hans of southern isles, playing the seemingly doting love interest and hero of Arendelle. There is something amazing about how this stage adaptation pushes Han’s narrative, with him taking centre stage in some real moments of tension. Jeremy Batt took on the role of the Duke of Weselton at this performance, earning many a laugh as did Jak Skelly as Oaken, impressing greatly and leading one of the shows new songs ‘Hygge’, which has everyone in stitches.
Just like they did with The Lion King all those years ago, Disney Theatrical continues to show what just can be done with puppets, with Craig Gallivan as Olaf the snowman, operating a beautiful puppet and truly showing off his flair for comedy, much to the delight of the audience. Whilst you may not see the face of Mikayla Jade, you certainly appreciate her performance as she becomes reindeer Sven inside one of the most incredible puppet suits I have ever seen. Asanda Masike and Ellie Shenker play the roles of young Anna and Elsa, adding to the emotional heart of the show with their friendship and the heartache of being forced apart. They are little stars deserving of all the praise.
Although the overhang of the balcony may have cut off our view of the very top of the proscenium arch, from our vantage point in the second to last row of the royal circle, we had a wonderful view of the incredible special effects that play a role in making this show so magical. From projections on the stage floor, to lights that dance up the arches and huge set pieces that appear as if out of nowhere, the staging of Frozen the musical really does need to be seen to be believed, including a massive bridge that spans double to width of the huge Drury Lane stage.
After such hits as Aladdin, The Lion King and Mary Poppins, you’d be forgiven for wondering what on Earth Disney Theatrical could do next when it comes to bringing their famous films to the stage, but Frozen proves that they had many more tricks up their sleeves. And for anyone out there wondering if it is simply a children’s show, it is so much more than that. Whilst it can capture the imagination of young fans, holding their attention throughout, it can also greatly impress the whole family, proving itself to be something for everyone. The costumes are beautiful, the effects are spectacular, and the cast knock it out of the park.
This production may be called Frozen, and may feature a lot of snow and ice, but, without a shadow of a doubt, it is the hottest ticket in town.
Images found via Google, not my own