It’s hard to believe that Disney’s Frozen phenomenon started 8 years ago. Since then, we’ve had two major films, several short films, a couple of stints in video games, a Disney on Ice production and although it has been a 3 year wait since the show first hit Broadway, the stage musical has finally arrived in Melbourne (after initially stopping in Australia via Sydney late last year), and it is certain to shake up a storm this winter.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d be aware that the story of Frozen follows two royal sisters, a 13th in line prince, an ice harvester, a reindeer and a talking snowman. Although appearing to be a wacky combination, these characters successfully form an insanely original and exciting story that doesn’t seem aged at all.
With the same team behind the film, writer and director Jennifer Lee, and creative music composition duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, these brilliant minds combine their powers to form the musical’s book and lyrics. Fans of the animation need not worry, as the stage musical is faithful to its original content and never throws our subjects out of character.
The existing songs we love from the original film have been enhanced with clever lyric changes that only make them sound better, whist also providing further depth, context and dimensions to the story and the characters that we all have grown to know and love.
An example of this would be when Anna is singing ‘Do You Wanna A Snowman’, the lyrics have been amended to appear less aggressive and yet at the same time longing and painful, “Please I know you’re in there, I’m just wondering how you’ve been. Do you maybe want to take a walk, or sit and talk, or let me in?”
At the same time, the original songs made specifically for the stage musical are incredible. Although the first film I feel focuses more on Anna, this musical counterpart homes in more on Elsa’s struggles and focuses on her mental health; the fear and anxiety of her abilities, and the acceptance of love, both from others and for herself. This is evident with the masterpiece of pivotal song ‘Monster’ and I daresay that it is my favourite of all the new songs from the show.
I also love this version of Elsa. She is more relatable, has more depth and is far superior to her animated counterpart. I also applaud the decisions made to have this musical study mental health in a way that we haven’t seen before and in a way that all ages will understand. Sure, the kingdom of Arendelle is fictional, but the struggles and concerns we see the sisters face are ones that we can all relate to and identify with. Minus the snow powers, of course.
The Australian cast of Frozen are perfection. Blake Appelqvist extremely funny and almost steals the show as our favourite humble shopkeeper Oaken, Aljin Abella is hilarious as Weselton and firmly holds your attention whenever he is on the stage, Sean Sinclair is adorably wonderful as the kind and quirky Kristoff, Thomas McGuane is deceptively charming and is excellent as Hans, Matt Lee is brilliant and naturally funny as Olaf, Courtney Monsma is the perfect combination of sassy and wholesome as Anna, and last but not least, Jemma Rix is phenomenal as Elsa, and I can think of no-one else that could originate the role of Elsa here in Australia. The best part of the Australian Frozen cast, however, is the fact that no-one outshines the other, they are consistently impressive as a team.
The creatives are just as important as the cast on stage. Christopher Oram’s stunning scenic and costume designs are awe inspiring, Natasha Katz lighting design is intuitive and clever, Rob Ashford’s original choreography is impressive, and Michael Grandage’s direction is award worthy.
When witnessing Jemma Rix as Elsa perform the iconic song ‘Let It Go’, the way the stage is animated and unfolds brought back feelings reminiscent to the first time I witnessed the song during my initial viewing of Frozen at the cinema – you really believe magic is happening right before your eyes and the entire moment is breath-taking.
Needless to say, the talent and stage craft of Frozen are second to none. The musical only further enhances a story we’ve fiercely already grown to love, bringing to life the magic of the movies, and it is a must-see experience for everyone.
Frozen is now playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne until November 2021.
For more information, ticketing, visit: https://frozenthemusical.com.au
Photography by Lisa Tomasetti.