Review By Regan Baker
I was just two years old when The Lion King smashed its’ way onto the big screen and imprinted itself forever onto my heart. 28-years later and I am still obsessed with everything Disney and on the eve of my 30th birthday what better way to celebrate my getting old, than enjoying something that makes me feel so young at heart. The magic of Disney truly lies in the fact that there is something for everyone; from distant, wonderous lands, to stories of heroism, love and identity, the themes told in their stories are timeless and impossible to not enjoy.
In saying that, Frozen was never one of my favourite films as I have more of a soft spot for the classics like Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. The modern movies just never left as much of a lasting impression as their 90’s counterparts, but the same can certainly not be said for this theatrical adaption of the 2013 film. Frozen the Musical is not only one of the best of the nine Disney stage productions, but also one of the best musicals ever produced. With its unbeatable 3D projection mapping, catchy original soundtrack and unforgettable costuming, this production will be talked about for years to come.
One of the biggest questions ringing around my mind upon entering the Lyric Theatre was what the staging was going to look like, being that the story is set predominantly in icy environments. The way that dynamite duo Natasha Katz (lighting) and Finn Ross (video design) worked together to create a projected world that mimicked snow laden mountains was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Combining these elements with an amazing set design truly crafted a believable world that starkly contrasted the vibrant life and colour of Arendelle, with the beautiful white and blue snowscape of the mountains.
Every element of the production was so well crafted in adding to the theatrical magic that unfolded before our eyes. The use of animatronics, quick-change costuming and illusion amplified the wow-factor and enhanced the overall memorability and enjoyment of the performance. The only real negative of these production elements was the use of fake snow – or should I say, the lack thereof. There were several attempts to incorporate snow into the scenes, but in such small quantities it detracted from the world-building more than it added. It either needed to be pumped in en-mass or left out altogether, as the resulting emotional connection to these elements was lackluster.
In addition to the superb environment that was created through lighting, video production and set creation, the costume design by Christopher Oram was off the charts. I lost count of the number of costumes that were produced for the show as they seemed to be never ending, and each of them was more brilliantly created than the last. The fine details on Elsa and Anna’s Coronation gowns were superb, and the same can be said for the wide variety of gowns and cloaks worn by the ensemble.
The main reason Frozen resonated so passionately with its audience, however, is due to the sensational Australian casting that reminds us of just how accomplished the industry is downunder. Sean Sinclair presented us with an aloof Kristoff who was so easy to love, and Thomas McGuane was an equally impressive Hans, who played the visage of a caring fiancé with finesse. Both were vocally impressive and talented dancers that left the audience in awe at every scene.
The creativity that went into bringing Olaf to life was comical, yet perfect, and Matt Lee embodied the role while dancing, singing, and operating the puppet in a showing of incredible talent. His characterization of Olaf brought graceful comedy to the performance and even the simplest of gestures or the tonality in his voice brought laughter in waves.
There is not a lot that can be said about Jemma Rix that hasn’t already been written. She is a true superstar of the musical theatre industry and a real triple threat in acting, song and dance. She delivers an Elsa who is strong-willed, anxious and loving and her inner turmoil radiates from her character. As was expected, the first act closes with a powerful performance of “Let It Go,” which she absolutely dominated, highlighted by an impressive costume quick-change and stunning 3D projection mapping of her icy castle.
In only her second lead role since graduating from the Queensland Conservatorium, Courtney Monsma solidified herself as a real contender in the Australian musical theatre scene. She delivered a beautifully awkward Anna who was quirky and often uncertain in her decisions, but continually motivated by her love for her sister and her friends. She hit every note with ease and performed stunning duets one after the other alongside Hans, Kristoff and Elsa.
While the leads were the obvious standouts, the entire cast deserve huge accolades for their opening night performances. They filled the Lyric Theatre with their harmonious voices and their dancing was unlike anything I have seen on a Queensland stage in quite some time.
Brisbane theatre lovers have so much to look forward to in this spectacular production and while ticket prices are possibly the highest I’ve seen for a QPAC musical, you will not find better value on a Queensland stage this year!
Frozen the Musical runs until the 24th of April and tickets can be purchased from the QPAC website.
Image Credit: Frozen the Musical