Disney Theatrical productions under the Direction of Thomas Schumacher present, FROZEN, The Broadway Musical, Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopezz and Robert Lopez; Book by Jennifer Lee, at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, Australia. 10 December, 2020 - Sunday 23rd May, 2021.
FROZEN, the Touring version of the Broadway Musical opened in Sydney at the Capitol Theatre just after the opening of PIPPIN at the Lyric Theatre. These two big musicals showing the way to the re-opening of the BIG theatres in the time of the Covid 19 Pandemic. Heroic and Hopeful.
The audience I sat with were an excited collection of fans of the Musical primed for the show, armed with their knowledge of the two FROZEN films, I supposed, for, whenever a song came or an interaction between characters, there was a sensation of emotional identification that had a sense of the rapture. Adoration and Devotion. I came to this latest development of the Franchise as a 'virgin' to the event. I knew nothing about FROZEN except, vaguely, the controversy of the possible 'gay' edge to one or two of the relationships in the show. Who knows? I just kept feeling the echoes of the sisterly rivalry between the 'girls' in the musical WICKED - and were they in taboo territory, too?
The content of the story was inspired by THE SNOW QUEEN by Hans Christian Andersen. The story is of two rival but loving sisters: Anna (Courtney Monsma) and Elsa (Jemma Rix) - one 'naughty' and full of tricks, the other subdued and 'majestic', bearing a sense of duty towards their three men Hans (Thomas McGuane), Kristoff (Sean Sinclair) and determined suitor, Weselton (Aljin Abela). There are also two puppet creatures contributing some theatrical 'magic' and the low comedy in the show: Olaf - the Snowman (Matt Lee) and Sven, the reindeer (either, Jonathan MacMillan or Lochie McIntyre).
The opening song heralds the formula of the show : a song boosted with energetic choreography (Rob Ashford) danced with gusto by "boofy" boys in 'hearty' cold climate costume (cuddle up and keep warm, a possible subliminal message) and smiley, robust young women in flaring skirts and ribbons around the maypole (cuddle up and see what can happen?), signalling the production to a be a little bit of a throw-back in time in that the visual offers and technology are kind of the old fashioned type (add the filmic 50's sensibilities and imagine, subversively), except for the lighting effects in the frozen ice imagery throughout the adventure - Lighting by Natasha Katz, Video by Finn Ross, Special effects Design by Jeremy Chernick. Set and Costume Design is by Christopher Oram.
This is a Disney tour re-staging of the original Broadway show and it is mostly a 'cookie-cutter' version of that without much creative input from the performers in this production - which is a fair and a regular carp from the artists here in Australia. There have been some sensational creative production from the Australian teams when they have had some freedom to do their own original version using the talents they have in hand, instead of been tied almost as stringed puppets to replicate the Broadway Show.
It is interesting that the Australian Director of this show Thomas Schumacher has cast young Aljin Abela in the role of the 'nerdy' suitor Weselton and permitted him to conceive his own characterisation from scratch. It comes from their trust that they explored in the creation of Iago in ALADDIN, as Director and Actor, it seems - for Mr Abela's performance was a manifestation remarkably different one from the original. It is a demonstration of Mr Schumacher's quote in the Sydney program notes: "a Broadway opening isn't the end of anything. It's a beginning." More power to that sentiment for the future transfers from Broadway to the Australian stage.
I did enjoy the spunk of Courtney Monsma as Anna and also signal my continued support of Blake Appleqvist as a potential star in his work as Oaken in the opening 'sauna' song of Act Two - his effortless physical and vocal brio was utterly charming.
FROZEN, The Hit Broadway Musical, is a fun, exuberant night in the theatre. One for the adults and especially the children - or, for those children who are now fanatical, nostalgic fans.