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Relaxed performance: 9th October 2022 at 12.30pm
In the local Arendelle Centre, little girls are frozen until they let it go...
Er, no. This is the magical story of Arendelle. It's Frozen, thanks to Anna's sister Elsa. Anna sets off to find her, and meets friends along the way...
The modern classic hits the West End stage.
(second visit 2nd March 2022, evening performance)
The monkey felt that the show has become considerably slicker and is happy to upgrade it to 5 stars.
Though it still has reservations about “Hygge” (too long and not nearly as funny as it thinks it is) and also the slightly confused ending – which didn’t work even from its elevated position in a side box – for the most part this really is a show for all ages.
It was noticeable how involved the younger members of the audience became, and not just expressing their love for Olaf (played with great charm and skill by Jake Small, covering for Craig Gallivan) and the sisters they adore. There was genuine anger at Hans (Oliver Ormson) and sighs of contentment when the ladies bonded again.
Both Anna (Stephanie McKeon) and Elsa (Samantha Barks) have grown in their roles. McKeon has toned down the “kooky” in favour of a little more restraint and depth. Bark’s voice has relaxed and got the measure of the auditorium to reach every corner – and smash out-of-the-ballpark the big number.
On a side note, the monkey took the “King’s Grand Circle Box” for the occasion – and felt closer to the stage than most stalls seats. Though it had to wriggle to see the nearside of the stage, the special effects were wonderful from that angle, and it was able to pursue its interest in stage magic as it could see how the major effects were done (don’t worry, if you don’t know what you are looking for, you still won’t guess).
So, a show truly for the entire family that deserves a long and happy run.
(seen at the preview performance on 1st September 2021)
An article in the show’s official programme notes that the size and facilities afforded by Drury Lane’s stage has allowed designer Christopher Oram to create a far larger production with extra scenery impossible at the show’s original Broadway home.
It is important to put that up front because Oram achieves something very special in London. Together with Finn Ross on video design and Jeremy Chernick’s special effects they manage to create several moments which have the audience gasping - one for which the applause is spontaneous and richly deserved - and over all transport us to a land of ice and snow, with the midnight sun burning bright in a land of love and friendship.
This is the core of “Frozen” and the glue between sisters which sticks little girls in particular to the animated feature and now the stage version. It was noticeable to the monkey that in an auditorium full of very young girls (many in wonderful full costume) the only sounds were appropriate applause, laughter (and booing!) as they absorbed the story with deep concentration.
It is nicely told for the most part. As Anna, Stephanie McKeon is the bounciest, funniest, kindest and most engaging princess you could hope to meet. It’s no wonder Hans (Oliver Ormson) is given firmly the great British “treatment” at the end of the show – well earned, nicely played.
Anna’s sister Elsa (Samantha Barks) gets the sparkliest of the wonderful costumes, and of course THE number. A surprisingly small role, Barks delivers everything required, making a detached Queen connect in a way that makes her final redemption believable - emotionally touching and truthful.
The helps and hinderances of the Royal pair are well drawn. Obioma Ugoala as Kristoff the Ice Merchant and owner of Sven the Reindeer (Ashley Birchall and Mikayla Jade on fine puppet animating form) hold the central part of the evening together and balance the female heart of the show with contrasting masculinity.
As Olaf, Craig Gallivan gets the puppet comedy and is an instant hit with the children clutching their own Olaf toys as they watch. It isn’t his fault that the one big number “In Summer” is in front of horrific cardboard cut-out scenery smashing the breath-taking polar atmosphere created just minutes before.
A large ensemble is given plenty to do by choreographer Rob Ashford and team. If the steps are not particularly original, they are at least lively. They function better in scenes involving drama, Pabbie (Joshua St. Clair) ramping up the tension as his people comes twice to Anna’s aid. The second sequence is a highlight, an un-named child particularly impressive as a tiny spirit of the country.
All of that said, the lasting impression is of a theatrical singularity. Quality stuff, and anyone calling it a “pantomime” should hang up their reviewing pen immediately and forever. And yet... for every moment soaring into the stratosphere, there are others which drag. Act two’s opening “Hygge” with a comedy “nude” (yes, and no, body stockings obligatory, this is done just in a Disney way) scene raises not even raising a snigger from a schoolboy, merely a snore from one father in row D.
When the show highlights its key messages, it is unbeatable. Judicious pruning would probably broaden its appeal as it is too slow for younger children and not offering much for sophisticated adults on their own. The Disney hallmark is there, it isn’t too sweet and has a little arctic bite. Whether that will prove addictive time will tell, but as a welcome back to London for huge musicals, the monkey will take it.
I saw 'Frozen' at the weekend (August 2021).
We were in the Balcony, row C 8-9. I'd booked the tickets what feels like years ago and then of course everything got postponed, so I know that I booked without a current seating plan to go off. However, I had assumed that the seating would start at no.1 and nos.8-9 would be more in from the edge - however the balcony seating starts with no. 8, so we were on the very edge of the balcony.
They're not terrible views, but as with any of these sorts of seats, if someone in the front row leans forward, they obstruct the view of anyone behind them. From these seats you do generally miss most of what is going on stage left due to the curve of the balcony, and unfortunately a lot happens there, as well as right to the front of the stage - luckily the 'Let It Go' sequence was unobscured as it mostly happens centre stage.
So, we missed an awful lot of the show, but I had taken a punt on the cheap £20 tickets so wasn't too annoyed - we were mostly very frustrated (as was everyone around us) with the tall young guy in row A, who missed the whole first half and then spent the 2nd half either leaning forward so no one could see or entering or exiting the auditorium and disturbing everyone each time. We have no idea why he kept being let back in.
However, the seats are comfortable and the theatre looks glorious. There is more leg room in the Drury Lane balcony than there is in the upper circle at the Victoria Palace Theatre, so that is something. Sadly our evening was mostly a concert as we missed so much and could only hear a lot of the singing, and I wouldn't sit in these seats again, but at least I know for next time!
Row B Balcony, £30 in pre opening, you lose the extended part of the stage, so you miss some but not much. Bigger problem is people in row in-front, when they lean forward, which most seem to as I guess they miss even more of the front of the stage
You lose a good 50% of the show, sometimes all. At some points it was unwatchable which is a shame. The back row of the balcony looked like it would afford a better view, although you may miss some of the effects.
Asked to wear a mask. Most wore masks but a significant number didn’t, even after reminders from the stage. Seats not socially distanced and public areas very busy, no distancing inside, on entry or exit.
Gorgeous in the auditorium isn’t it. We were D21-23 in the grand circle - central, clear view of the whole stage, terrific sound and a great place to sit to appreciate the spectacle. Fantastic rake, it didn’t seem too far from the stage, no overhang, decent width seats and about the best Upper Circle experience we’ve had.
I liked the blue carpet and the snow. We had the most heart-stopping moment during 'Let it Go.' As Elsa went into the costume reveal and the climax of the song she swirled the dress off and absolutely went flying. Crashed down onto the stage, stopped singing, audible audience gasp etc.
Thankfully she got back up, carried on, the crowd went wild etc but must have been a nightmare for the poor lady. An usher we got talking to on the bus home said she was ok but shaken up. I think the costume department will have some work to do before tomorrow night!!
Stalls C14. The rake isn’t fantastic so I did have a head in front of me (and I’m 6 foot!) and it is slightly to the side so there’s a few minuscule bits you don’t see thanks to cast blocking and set design, but for £20 absolutely zero complaints whatsoever!! If I was paying £90 then obviously I’d want to be in the centre, but it’s undoubtedly one of the best day seats I have ever scored.
Stalls K33 - really great seat. Clear view of stage. Well worth taking, despite the price (gulp). If you are taller, the legroom might be a problem but five foot me was fine. I convinced the usher to give me a booster seat. "They're for children" "But I'm really short and there's little rake in the stalls!" "OK then". Better with a booster but probably not the end of the world if I didn't.
Frozen was amazing. Staging-wise it's one of the best around. And the Hygge song and dance was hilarious.
I’m most likely not this show’s target audience: I’ve seen the first film once, not seen the second and wasn’t bringing any children with me. But I loved it.
I think the world and it’s dog knows the story of Frozen so I’ll skip it and deal with the show itself. Brava to everyone involved. It is spectacular. The extravagant set, the fabulous lighting, the costumes that perfectly reflect the ones from the film, they’re all perfect (I’ll come back to this later).
I did wonder how they would recreate Elsa’s powers on stage?
Everything mentioned above comes into play. There are jaw-dropping effects (I might as well mention it now, there is THAT costume change; mid stage, it just happens - I understand it took a year to set that one up); and there is an effect close to the end that is a combination of lighting, costume and ensemble that had me wanting to stand up and applaud it, it is so brilliantly pulled off).
The songs are, almost all (I’ll be back) spot on. The ensemble is given a lot to do and do it wonderfully well.
There are two dips. Olaf’s dream sequence about wanting it to be hot. It does go on a bit, and some people have complained about the ‘cartoonish’ staging when everything else is so extravagant. But I’ll forgive the latter, it’s deliberately cartoonish and matches the sequence in the film. And the Olaf segments are very much for the little ones in the audience (we had a few near us, they were SO well behaved, adults at other shows please take note). And “Hygge”, the opening number of the second half? It’s a bit of a laugh and it sets up a nice ensemble gag, but frankly it goes on at least 5 minutes too long and doesn’t really add to proceedings.
But back to the good stuff… It’s surprising how small Elsa’s role is, with the plot concentrating much more on Anna. But it works. I understand both leads (Samantha Barks - Elsa and Stephanie McKeon - Anna) have grown into their roles. Barks’ Elsa is - given her limited stage time - a hard one to pull off, but she gets it just right. What everyone else thinks is cold and aloof is driven by fear after a childhood incident. And I’m told McKeon has reined in her performance, losing ‘kooky’ and replacing with a lovely performance of someone that has never had to develop social skills as she’s pretty much never seen anyone else! And this lack of social awareness sets up the peril of the show nicely.
If I awarded stars, this would be 4.75 out of 5. Trim ‘Hygge’ a touch and it would be perfect.
There will be people who think “This is for little kids only.” It couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a superb piece of musical theatre that everyone will enjoy. Frozen is a must-see piece of musical theatre, no matter what age, if you like Disney or not, it doesn’t matter. Do yourself a favour and get a ticket.
Grand Circle, Seats C28 and 29.
Fantastic seats. Seated dead centre, exactly far enough away to take in the entire stage, yet close enough to pick up on expressions (much further back and the latter will be lost). The steepish rake means you see easily over the head of anyone in front. They’re comfortable with decent legroom. This section of the theatre has most definitely benefited from the refurbishment.
Talking about the refurbishment, come along early. Not just to make the front of house team’s life easier, but to fully appreciate the fantastic work done in refurbishing this grand theatre and restoring it to it’s full glory.
D34: Wonderful view with such a low stage. Couldn't see the performers feet most of the time, but that didn't matter. Comfortable seat and good legroom. Would sit here again!
D38: Legroom was acceptable. View was sometimes obstructed by the lady's head in front of me. Comfortable enough seat. Stage is low so that wasn't much of an issue.
The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.
To 14th November 2022
Wednesday at 7pm
Thursday at 2pm and 7pm
Friday at 7pm
Saturday at 2pm and 7pm
Sunday at 1pm and 5.30pm
NO MONDAY AND TUESDAY PERFORMANCES.
From 16th November 2022
Wednesday at 7pm
Thursday at 2.30pm and 7pm
Friday at 7pm
Saturday and Sunday at 1pm and 5.30pm
NO MONDAY AND TUESDAY PERFORMANCES.
Runs 2 hours 15 minutes approximately, including one interval.
Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.
"Day Seats:" Visit www.disneytickets.co.uk/disney-day-seats-tickets from 10am until 12 noon on performance days. £20 seats are available, first come, first served. Maximum of 2 per customer.
Other offers may be also be made, at box office discretion, this includes standing room in the Upper Circle, priced £20, sold once the theatre is full.
CLICK SEATING PLAN TO ENLARGE IF REQUIRED. USE "BACK" BUTTON TO RETURN.
MAGICAL MONDAYS: Visit www.disneytickets.co.uk/disney-day-seats-tickets at 12 noon each Monday. £25 seats are available for all performances that week, first come, first served. Located at venue discretion. Maximum of 2 per customer.