Review: Frozen


by Mike Matthaiakis

Frozen“, the enchanting Disney musical, has found its ideal home in London’s West End, taking residence at the revamped Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The iconic story of Elsa and Anna is given a fresh lease of life in this grand production, where director Michael Grandage’s vision elevates the stakes and expands on the emotional depth of the narrative.

The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, with its vaulted ceilings, detailed frescos, and golden accents, provides a palatial setting that befits the magical journey to the kingdom of Arendelle. The production, with its updated story, additional music, and captivating magic, is a winning addition to the West End, promising a bright future for this Disney classic.

While the narrative remains true to Jennifer Lee’s original screenplay, the heightened gravity of the story is more pronounced in Grandage’s production. The exploration of themes like sisterhood and embracing one’s true self resonates powerfully, offering a timely message that transcends generations. The production’s larger-than-life spectacle, infused with choreographer Rob Ashford’s creativity, creates a mesmerizing experience that pulses with energy.

Grandage’s background in Shakespeare and opera is evident in the grandeur of the show, where effects are more spectacular, jokes land with precision, and emotions are intensified. The scale-up from its Broadway premiere is evident in new set pieces, additional songs, and magical elements that contribute to the epic nature of the journey.

The musical’s score, including Robert Lopez and Kristen Andersen-Lopez’s iconic songs from the film, is complemented by new additions that provide depth to characters like Prince Hans and Kristoff. The expanded catalogue allows for more exploration of Elsa’s internal struggle, manifested beautifully in two new ballads. The addition of a new duet for the sisters, “I Can’t Lose You,” enhances the central love story and enriches the storytelling experience.

In the capable hands of Samantha Barks as Elsa and Stephanie McKeon as Anna, the sisters’ dynamic is a highlight. Barks brings a serious and scared portrayal of Elsa, hitting every note flawlessly and delivering a show-stopping rendition of “Let It Go.” McKeon’s Anna exudes effervescent energy, providing a perfect foil for Elsa with physical comedy and one-liners that add levity to the narrative.

The supporting cast, including Craig Gallivan as Olaf and Mikayla Jade and Ashley Birchall as puppetry masters for Sven, contributes to the overall magic of the production. Secondary roles, such as the Duke of Weselton played by Richard Frame, are infused with dimension and comedic flair.

At the performance attended, Young Anna and Young Elsa, portrayed by Asanda Abbie Masike and Tilly-Raye Bayer, stole the show with their endearing performances. The weather seemingly blessed the West End opening of “Frozen,” and after the challenges of the past years, the production serves as a reminder that the gates will open, the sun will shine, and we’ll stand in the light of day again. “Frozen” proves to be a triumphant addition to the West End’s theatrical landscape, offering a magical and heartwarming experience for audiences of all ages.

Frozen plays until September 8, 2024 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.