|Emma Rix as Elsa in "Frozen"|
Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez – Book by Jennifer Lee
Directed by Michael Grandage. Choreographed by Rob Ashford
Musical Director – David Young. Scenic and Costume Design by Christopher Oram
Presented by Disney Theatrical Productions.
Australian Premiere, Capitol Theatre, Sydney, 10th December, reviewed by Bill Stephens
Just “Let ‘em Go”. “Let ‘em Go”. “Let “em Go“. Every child who’s been enchanted by this story of sibling loyalty, will be desperate to see this stage version, and you’ll risk breaking their heart if you deprive them, because this production is even more enchanting, and more fun, than the animated feature that inspired it.
As with the film, the audience is introduced to the princess sisters as children, delightfully portrayed on opening night by Deeana Cheong Foo (Elsa) and Chloe Delle-Vedove (Anna), who set the tone so charmingly that their transformation into the older Elsa (Jemma Rix) and Anna (Courtney Monsma) during “Do you want to build a Snowman?”, becomes the first of many magical moments woven throughout this production.
Sans the green make-up she was hidden behind in “Wicked”, Jemma Rix is superb as Elsa, born to be queen but possessing terrifying powers she is unable to control. Appropriately regal, she commands the stage; literally stopping the show with her powerful rendition of “Let If Go”, the stunningly staged song everyone has come to hear, then later in the second act furiously wielding her magical powers to rescue Anna.
As her compulsive younger sister Anna, newcomer Courtney Monsma captivates with a dazzling, star-making performance, acting with flair, singing and dancing with a compelling assurance that makes it impossible to take your eyes off her. Whether flirting outrageously with the handsome prince, Hans (Thomas McGuane) in “Love is an Open Door”, dueting affectingly with her sister in “I can’t Lose You”, or arguing with the smitten Kristoff (Sean Sinclair) her endearing comedic flair is always bubbling just beneath the surface.
|Courtney Monsma (Anna) - Thomas McGuane (Hans)|
Of course the handsome prince Hans is not quite what he purports to be, resulting in a revelation that provides the impetus for a succession of spectacularly staged production numbers, not all of which advance the storyline, but which delight the eyes and ears.
As with all Disney musicals it’s rarely the convoluted storylines which stamp these shows as “must see”. Rather it’s the opportunity they provide for lavish sets, costumes and eye-popping special effects and in this area this production certainly doesn’t disappoint. The costumes are gorgeous, particularly those for the ball sequence, and the special affects genuinely magical. And of course there are the extraordinary characters met along the way.
|Jemma Rix (Elsa) - Matt Lee (Olaf) - Courtney Monsma (Anna)|
Among them, Olaf, the lovable snowman, irresistibly portrayed by Matt Lee whose joyful song “In Summer” provides a memorable highlight; the matey ice-man Kristoff (a terrific performance by Sean Sinclair) and his loyal reindeer, Sven (Jonathan MacMillan). There’s the merry outpost shopkeeper, Oaken (Blake Appelqvist) and his motley bunch of sauna friends who surprise with their hilariously risky “ nude” birch-twig dance, “Hygge”, and the diminutive Duke of Weselton (Aljin Abella) who turns remarkably unpleasant when Elsa rejects his romantic overtures, and of course the exotic “Hidden Folk” who try to make a match of Anna and Kristoff. They’re all there, even more entrancing when played by real live actors giving their all at every performance just for you.
All photos by Lisa Tomasetti
This review first published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW . www.artsreview.com.au