Review by Tatum Stafford
The time has finally come for Perth to “let it go” and be swept up by the winter wonderland that is the hit Broadway musical Frozen. And wow, was it worth the wait!
From the minute the lights dimmed and the multi-generational audience found their seats, it’s clear we’d be in for something special. The thoughtful pre-show announcement included the touching message: “We understand this may be some people’s first show. We hope it sparks a lifelong love of theatre.”
The story of Frozen is a simple yet beautiful one, featuring a strong sisterly bond, plenty of playful characters, and lots of opportunities for familial, romantic, and friendship love. As Elsa retreats from the kingdom of Arendelle to control her ever-growing powers, her younger sister Anna sets off to find her, and encounters a reindeer, snowman, and mountaineer along the way.
The performances by this talented Australian cast are nothing short of sensational. Courtney Monsma is an absolute delight as Anna; she brings plenty of heart, charisma, kookiness and one of the most gorgeous voices I’ve ever heard. Jemma Rix is similarly stunning in her stoic portrayal of Elsa, and nails two of the show’s biggest power ballads; “Monster” and the iconic “Let It Go”, which featured some incredible staging and a surprise costume effect (no spoilers, go see it for your own eyes!). The two have beautiful chemistry as sisters, and their voices blend together seamlessly and impressively.
Other standouts include the effervescent Matt Lee as Olaf, whose mid-act one number “In Summer” blew the roof off, Sean Sinclair as Kristoff, and Aljin Abella as Weselton. Thomas McGuane was suitably charming as the deceitful Prince Hans, and Jonathan MacMillan and Lochie McIntyre’s shared role as the impressive puppet Sven – this role is no mean feat and both are clearly doing a fantastic job at creating the illusion of a real-life reindeer live on stage. The two child actors who portray young Elsa and young Anna are absolutely gorgeous together. There are four combinations of sisters in the Perth season, including Miranda Ferrigno, Makayla Healy, Amya Mollison and Samara Wheeler as young Elsas, and Marli Lee, Matilda Murray, Stella Partridge and Hunter Ribeiro as young Annas.
The powerful ensemble of this show are very busy and incredibly captivating in an array of numbers; from the contemporary movement of “Fixer Upper” (which showcases Rob Ashford’s infamous and amazingly aerobic choreography) to the joyous opening sequence, which featured gorgeous costuming and soaring vocals.
Two undeniable heroes within this show are its score and its technical feats. Its score, which features a mix of brand-new songs and songs from the 2013 Disney film, was composed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. As a fan of the film, it was so exciting to hear some of the new compositions that were written for the show, including “What Do You Know About Love?”, “Monster” and “Hygge”. The new song with the most impact, however, was the stunning duet “I Can’t Lose You”, sung between Elsa and Anna, and only added into the show when it went on its North American Tour, 18 months after opening on Broadway.
The technical elements of this show give it the Disney magic touch, and make it a dazzling spectacular to witness no matter where you sit in the theatre. Big credit to Christopher Oram’s stunning scenic and costume design, Natasha Katz’s lighting design, Peter Hylenski’s sound design and Finn Ross’ video design.
This show is a real treat for the senses, no matter how old or young you are. There is truly something for everyone to enjoy, and it is such a joy and pleasure to have it playing here in Perth after such a successful run over east. Bravo to all involved, and I wish it a very successful run over here on the west coast!
Image Credit: Lisa Tomasetti