In Review

Frozen the Musical: what the critics are saying

Stage production is ‘breathtaking’ but film’s ‘weak story’ and gaping ‘plot holes’ have not been resolved

The 2013 Disney film Frozen – a musical extravaganza about an icy kingdom, estranged royal sisters and supernatural powers – was met with “acclaim, Oscars and delirium”, said Arifa Akbar in The Guardian. Remarkably, this West End stage adaptation lives up to that legacy, and arguably even “exceeds it”.

Michael Grandage’s production, reworked since it premiered on Broadway in 2018, has all the magic of the film and is packed with gorgeous choreography and superb “coups de théâtre”. The use of video effects, lighting and sound are all stunning.

But what really struck me about the adaptation was that it conveys a far greater “sense of a real, beating heart in the relationship between the two tortured sisters”. Samantha Barks’s performance as Elsa is “soaked with sadness”, and the show-stopping power ballad Let It Go is “saturated with emotional drama”.

The “breathtaking” magic and “mesmerising meteorological effects” add “a whole new wow”, agreed Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail. Barks is brilliant as Elsa; Stephanie McKeon is a “saucer-eyed delight” as her devoted sister Anna; and the best supporting characters from the film “sparkle”, especially puppet snowman Olaf. 

Fans of the film will love it, said Nick Curtis in the London Evening Standard. The show has undeniable “dazzle and wit”, and the expensively refurbished Drury Lane is a “ravishing” home for it. But the film’s “weak story” and gaping “plot holes” have not been resolved. “A frozen brain can be cured but not a frozen heart, you say? Elsa is immensely powerful but easily captured?” Sorry, Frozen still doesn’t stack up dramatically. “Let it go? I probably could.”

On stage, Frozen “gains in potency from the live connection between actors and audience” – but you also become more aware of the original’s failings, agreed Sarah Hemming in the FT. There are “several underused ideas, characters and plot lines” – and though the story touches on “significant themes, such as loneliness, self-doubt and gender expectations”, it fails to dig into them. But “most o

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