Music/Lyrics: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Book: Jennifer Lee
Director: Michael Grandage
Reviewer: John Roberts
It would be safe to assume that anything Disney puts its name to, would be a hit, but that’s not quite true when it comes to Broadway for every Lion King, there was its Tarzan, for every Beauty and the Beast there was its Little Mermaid – so will Frozen fall by the wayside and join its swinging cousin in the “to be forgotten” category or will it hit the headlines on all the Newsies’ front pages today for all the right reasons?
The answer is most certainly the latter, this is a stunning adaptation from screen to stage and under Michael Grandage’s assured and slick direction Frozen will certainly run for years to come, especially if they continue to cast the production with the same calibre they have imbibed into the original cast.
What is evident from the start of Frozen is the care taken to not only be truthful to the original source material but allow the creatives and cast enough space and freedom to take ownership over the characters and find their own sense of freedom within the fictional Scandinavian town of Arendelle. Through Chirstopher Oram’s set and costume design the Disney magic is evident from every sparkle and sequin and brush stroke. Both allowing the production to feel epic and spacious yet equally intimate and detailed. Likewise, the Lopez’s new songs and Jennifer Lee’s book play around a little with the story but help bring a new depth to the leading protagonists Anna (Patti Murin) and Elsa (Caissie Levy).
Levy is especially gifted with some great new numbers including the soul-searching Monster, this is a career-defining performance here and her act one closer Let It Go is equally as epic as Wicked’s Defying Gravity. Likewise, Patti Murin shines as the quirky younger sister Anna ringing the comedy out of the role at every opportunity – similarly at the performance, this reviewer saw Mattea Conforti equally bring the role of Younger Anna to life and shine as strong as her adult co-stars. Strong male support comes in abundance thanks to John Riddle’s “love to hate” Hans, a charming portrayal from Jelani Alladin as Kristoff joined by Andrew Pirozzi as Sven. Olaf is given life thanks to Greg Hildreth’s charming yet honest performance, a pleasant surprise in this adaptation is given to shopkeeper Oaken, here the role is expanded further from the film and given his own number Hygge which actor Kevin Del Aguila gives everything to.
Frozen is an enchanting family musical which garners gasps from the young and older audience members alike, especially through the special effects created by Jeremy Chernick and Finn Ross’ clever video design which at times is so real, it’s hard to believe that it’s not actually snowing on stage.
Grandage has brought Frozen to life with sensitivity and verve showcasing what true family entertainment is about – big spectacle with truthful, honest and endearing performances that really envelop you in its magic spell. The only question on this reviewer’s lips is how long before the production crosses the water and lands on the stage in the West End? Not too long one hopes!
Running on an open-ended run at the St James Theatre, New York | Image: Deen van Meer