This past weekend, in Denver, a few lucky souls were able to see the final performances of the trial run of Disney’s latest theatrical musical – Frozen: the Musical. The goal of these trial runs is to test what works and then refine it for its Broadway debut. I’ve always felt that Frozen belonged on Broadway even more than in a movie and, to my pleasure, I was not disappointed. Frozen: the Musical does a great job of staying true to the original film while fleshing it out a bit more.
The first thing that this musical got right was the terrific casting. Caissie Levy and Patti Murin are terrific as Elsa and Anna, respectively. It’s a tall order to replace Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell but they do a great job. I particularly loved Levy’s rendition of ‘Let it Go’ (the entire number has the gravitas fans are hoping for along with an incredible quick dress change!). Greg Hildreth sounds so much like Josh Gad as Olaf that it is uncanny, and Jelani Alladin and John Riddle are terrific as Kristoff and Hans (it was particularly nice to see some diversity in the casting of Kristoff).
The production is also full of spectacle. I loved how they captured Elsa’s ice magic with light and sounds, and the puppets for Sven and Olaf are fantastic. It seems hard to believe that Sven is even a puppet, the movement is so fluid and seamless!
I liked almost all of the new songs particularly ‘Dangerous Dream’ and ‘Monster,’ which helped flesh out Elsa’s character and motivations. There is also a song for Kristoff, ‘What Do You Know About Love?’ and one for Hans, ‘Hans of the Southern Isles,’ that I liked very much. Anna sings ‘True Love,’ which was nice to give her one more serious song rather than the 2 naive happy songs of the film.
I don’t think Frozen: the Musical will win over the Frozen-haters crowd because it stays pretty close to the film but it did what a good adaptation should do: stick close but still add changes that make the new property their own. There was only one song, ‘Hygge,’ that I was not a fan of – partly because it went on too long and felt a little inappropriate for a show with so many small kids in the audience. I was also a little surprised they kept ‘Fixer Upper,’ as most don’t care for it but it was well-sung and staged a little better.
I have seen all the Disney musicals except for Aladdin and can confidently say Frozen: the Musical is my 3rd favorite after Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. It had everything I could ask for in this type of Broadway musical: emotion, great songs and incredible production design!
Look for Frozen: the Musical coming to Broadway in February 2018!