There can be miracles, when you believe. 'Tis the season for the extraordinary on Opening Night of Disney’s 'Frozen The Musical'.
It is indeed a marvel when the crème de la crème of Australian musical theatre fly the global flag and raise the curtains on behalf of Broadway and West End from Sydney’s Capitol Theatre. It’s a wonder to sit in a fully-packed theatre celebrating our arts. And it’s a remarkable achievement to think of the collaborations involved when you take into account the creative team of lyricists, composers, arrangers, sets, costumes, lighting, sound, puppetry, video, makeup, hair, special effects, orchestra, choreography, producers and artists for such a worldwide sensation that is Disney’s 'Frozen': all the perfect ingredients uniting to make magic where the frosty journey of two sisters realises the truest kind of love.
Alchemy was boldly present in the cast – particularly from the strong female roles who were all powerhouses on this night and perhaps showing up the boys in the capacity of their vocals and roles. The presence of Chloe Delle-Vedove as Young Anna and Deeana Cheong Foo as Young Elsa was enthralling, with young Anna’s cheeky antics adding delightful comedic elements to 'Frozen'’s overture.
Jemma Rix as Queen Elsa dominated the stage at each scene with Courtney Monsma (read our interview with Courtney here
) beyond outstanding as adult Anna and playing the extremely likable protagonist exquisitely. Rix’s powerhouse vocals were a perfect match for Elsa, belting out 'Frozen'’s signature 'Let It Go' and meeting all the expectations set in the hype for this very spectacle.
Sean Sinclair and Lochie McIntyre - Image © Lisa Tomasetti
The chemistry between the two leading ladies overshadowed those of their leading men; Thomas McGuane as handsome Hans of the Southern Isles and Sean Sinclair as ice-harvesting loner Kristoff were dulled in the splendour of the Rix-Monsma bewitchment. It’s certainly not to say any performance was underwhelming; it is more a testament to the preeminent heroines – and as it should be, in a show centred around this volatile sisterly relationship.
McGuane and Monsma’s amusing and enjoyable duets were alluring standouts. Relative newcomer by comparison Sinclair had a quirky charm and sweet relationship with his reindeer Sven worked by Lochie McIntyre – a masterful puppeteered operation for an extremely uncomfortable display of agility.
While the beloved movie storyline is reduced for the stage, great acting agility alongside a commitment to the role is necessary to heighten those necessary plot points – something surely to develop over time as the actors become more comfortable in their roles.
Crowd favourite Olaf, as the lovable, uncomplicated snowman, was masterfully executed by Australian theatre royalty, Matt Lee for a charismatic union of singing, puppetry and physical movement. Honourable mentions to Aljin Abella as Duke of Weselton and Blake Appelqvist as shopkeeper Oaken, who were clearly and fully committed to their supporting roles.
Image © Lisa Tomasetti
Disney Theatrical Productions’ creatives knew they were on to a winner with the stage version greenlit before the movie had even reached theatres. The movie’s screenwriter Jennifer Lee and composers and lyricists Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez lent their expertise, keeping the soul of the movie intact for the stage under the exceptional direction of Michael Grandage.
Scandinavian inspiration was evident in driving the entire set with nods to the lush design concepts and costumes extending to the drone-like kulning and choral music arrangements. Climactic moments are all the more unique and mesmerising with set engineering particularly outstanding and a feat of ingenuity. From within the walls of the majestic kingdom of Arendelle to the elegant scapes of the icy wonderlands, Christopher Oram weaves his own spells with set and costume design, elevating the production into a true Disney spectacle. Costumes were meticulously crafted to bring both the recognition of the original 'Frozen' characters as well as an extra sparkle from the story to the stage. Where 'Frozen' really jumps to the next level is in its lighting design. The collective gasps from across the audience when Arendelle transforms to Queen Elsa’s jewel-like palace is testament to lighting designer Natasha Katz and special effects wizard Jeremy Chernick.
The stage worked brilliantly for Rob Ashford’s thoughtful choreography observed by the ensemble – particularly at chorus line instances with Fosse-inspired shapes for showstopping story moments. And this all enveloped by the textural ambience of the orchestra with Music Director David Young at the conducting helm to bring Stephen Oremus’ arrangements to life.
Disney’s 'Frozen The Musical' is a majestic and magical experience. There can be miracles, when you believe, and Australian musical theatre has reminded us that this is the season and the moment to believe. Disney's 'Frozen The Musical' is now on at Sydney's Capitol Theatre.