Disney has come a long way with its films. Nowadays the women are independent, there’s a lot more diversity and the songs are empowering!
Frozen has become something of a classic, transcending the ages and making you believe you can let your hair down and be yourself.
But with such a stellar cast and reception, a stage production could be a challenge. When I saw the Broadway version in 2019 I was actually quite disappointed but – two years later directed by Michael Grandage – the West End adaptation is finally here.
And wow does it deliver on a completely different level!
It stays relatively true to the film but does adapt the story somewhat. Songs have been removed, changed, and added, while many characters’ roles have been reduced or extended. For the most part, this works well, although I would have preferred more stage time for Sven (Mikayla Jade) and less for Hans (Oliver Ormson). I would also question the decision to maintain the American accents, but this was not a huge distraction.
Craig Gallivan is excellent as Olaf (with Michael Curry’s fabulous puppet design), bringing our favourite hug-loving snowman to life. He is a joy to behold and just makes you want to give him a cuddle! Oaken (Jak Skelly) is a character worthy of his own song and Hygge brings some light humour to the beginning of Act II.
Obioma Ugoala makes for a charismatic Kristoff, both smug and caring; his relationship with Sven is delightful and there is real chemistry between him and Anna (Stephanie McKeon). Their duet What Do You Know About Love? really sums up their characters and the icy bridge setting adds to its charm and captures the ups and downs of their relationship.
Samantha Barks is the perfect Elsa, bringing her own interpretation to the role while balancing the character’s conflicted feelings throughout. The Act I finale of Let It Go is beautiful and powerful; combined with Neil Austin’s lighting, Finn Ross’s video design and Christopher Oram’s magical staging and costumes, it’s a stunning and emotional sequence. And that dress is divine!
In fact, the overall effect of this production really is magical. The cast, costumes and set all sparkle and there’s a good balance of humour, tragedy and morality – everything that you expect and hope for in a West End musical.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
Upcoming access performances
Signed Performance (Sunday 5 December, 1pm matinee)
Relaxed Performance (Sunday 19 December 12.30pm matinee)
Audio Described Performance (Sunday 23 January 2022 1pm matinee)
Captioned Performance (Sunday 30 January 2022 at 5.30pm)