Reviews/Musical Theatre

Ice magic melts hearts of young and old

28 August 2022

Frozen the musical is a truly enchanting rendition of a childhood favourite and one young writer Bethany Stopher will long remember.

Frozen, Disney Theatrical Productions ·
Crown Theatre, 27 August 2022 · 
review by Bethany Stopher age 15 ·

There is a flurry of blue in the Crown Theatre foyer, little girls with sparkly Elsa dresses and starry eyes, breathless in anticipation. I feel suddenly eight again, when I saw Frozen in the cinema at least three times. I have grown up with this refreshingly feminist fairytale, and Frozen the musical casts it in a new light for me, with all the power of the stage. 

Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions and directed by Tony Award winner Michael Grandage, Frozen is a bedazzling musical which delights young and old alike. The music, costumes, set design and raw talent combine to create an experience unlike any other. 

As soon as the curtain rises, we’re pulled into a magical world. Swirling northern lights (created from video pixels) illuminate the stage as we meet our main protagonists, Anna and Elsa. The young performers portraying the childhood sisters captivate with their sweet voices and endless energy. As the stage twinkles and smokes from Elsa’s powers, we are given a taste of the jaw-dropping illusions to come. 

The staging of ‘Frozen’ is magnificent, from moody lighting to dazzling costumes. Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

The Arendelle princesses truly emphasise the importance of sisterly love. Courtney Monsma, who plays adult Anna, accentuates her adorable awkwardness. She harnesses every aspect of her body language and vocal abilities to let Anna’s bubbly persona shine through. Monsma’s voice is rich and honied, with a pleasing trill.

Jemma Rix (known for her role in Wicked) is Elsa, the famous ice queen. She perfectly replicates the stony face and aloof presence. Her voice, too, is marvellous and she has an extremely impressive range, with gorgeous soprano notes in her solos. 

The set design evokes the age-old wonder of Disney. Natasha Katz, responsible for lighting design, conveys the mood of every scene, whether with a lonely spotlight, or the border of the stage freezing over as Elsa loses control of her powers.

The “Let it Go” sequence is literally a showstopper. Scenic and costume designer Christopher Oram outdoes himself. The queen’s gloves and cape fly off to the wings, and as she sings, her castle forms around her in crystallised perfection. The audience oohs and aahs as her coronation dress disappears before our eyes to reveal a stunning blue gown; a sequined feat that took three months to hand-make.

Olaf (Matt Lee) provides light relief for sisters Elsa (Jemma Rix) and Anna (Courtney Monsma). Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

The humour of the movie is reinforced in the stage production. Matt Lee, playing Olaf, is the comedic sidekick everyone adores. He handles the puppet with expertise, but the expressions also translate to his facial features until he is one with the talking snowman.

Choreographer Rob Ashford also fashions hilarious moments. There is a dance sequence in “Love is an Open Door” complete with dorky dance moves that make Anna even more lovable. Oaken’s “Hygge” (performed by Justin Anderson) includes a saucy show-girl style number involving leaves, high kicks and flesh-coloured body suits. 

However, it isn’t all fun and games, sparkles and snowflakes; Frozen has dark undertones. Elsa has led a lonely life, ostracising herself from everyone she loves. Her cool colour palette and the blue light cast on her during the party, the surrounding merriment almost untouchable to her, allude to mental illness. Chills ripple up my arms in the complete stillness when Elsa crumples to the ground after hearing that Anna has died. The ensemble is used effectively here, making shapes of the storm, and showing dimension as the sisters search for each other. 

“Monster”, one of the new songs written by original composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, frequently references health issues such as anxiety and depression. Elsa even seems to be considering suicide with the lyrics “Is everyone in danger as long as I’m alive?” However, the topic is addressed delicately and raises awareness while erasing stigma about mental health for a young, impressionable audience. 

As paper snowflakes rain down on the front rows, the audience emerges from their enchanted spell, wolf-whistling, and the performers receive a deserving standing ovation. I’m sure the magic of this musical will live in the hearts of every single person here for many years to come. 

Frozen is at Crown Theatre Perth until 30 October 2022. 

Pictured top: Jemma Rix is marvellous as the ice queen Elsa in ‘Frozen’. Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

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Bethany Stopher has long brown hair over her shoulders and is smiling at the camera

Author —
Bethany Stopher

Young writer Bethany Stopher is a high school student who has a passion for ballet and creative writing. She is drawn to shiny things, pretty words, and big hugs. Her favourite piece of playground equipment is the swings because it feels like flying.

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