My non-fluent visitor from abroad has never heard of the most successful animated film ever and does not recognise pictures of the Pixar film, let alone the Oscar-recognized soundtrack. I had my suspicions already but still gasp when this is being confirmed over and over, even by someone who lives pop culture-wise under a stone (or in his case, deepest darkest Bavaria – same thing, isn’t it?). For this very reason, I was not afraid of picking Disney’s Frozen for our well-deserved West End night out: I knew the story is linear, the music accessible and stage and costumes would be extraordinarily lush as my friend promised, who’d seen it on Broadway shortly after it opened. And as far as my 20plus years as a musical visitor go, Frozen is another league, a new league maybe.
The Theatre Royal Drury Lane was preparing for a long time for this show and you can read about its fascinating history (and its ghosts) in the brochure and the programme – I will definitely look into the guided tours once time is on my side again. Around six years ago I saw Sam Mendes’ Charlie And The Chocolate Factory here, another show picked back then by German visitors of which we still highly speak of.
Enchanted snowflakes, uncountable crystals, icicles and Baltic flower stitching could look tatty on a panto stage but here they are high-end West End glamour. Nordic lights glow, arctic winds whistle, reindeer magic is not revealed.
Arendelle’s princesses and their companion are given far more space and their personal development enhances and enriches the story – admittedly, I who loved Hans-Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen and also The Snow Man since I can think back, hated the film when I first saw it, and only gave it another go after returning from DisneyWorld and observed whole families around me crying tears of joy when the music was played during the fireworks in Orlando’s night sky. Years later, a mother was interviewed on TV who explained her son’s autism and involuntary emotional outbursts to his younger sister with the story of Elsa’s and her inability to control the powers under the responsibilities she has been given.
I watched the film a third time and now, Frozen made sense to me: It is a story of given into the fact, that we all rely on reassurance from the people we love, that this makes us human, with or without siblings. That true love does not have to be nuclear. And that isolation should never be an answer, and especially not a solution – blood is thicker than ice, summarizes the program.
Of course, there are lighter moments: The tribal interpretation of the trolls might appeal to the more mature audience while a hygge hymn in revealing, skin-colour catsuits sung by the fabulous sauna-celebrating ensemble with bunches of birch rather than ivy leaves has us in unexpected laughs.
The row in front of us is entirely French speaking and the one behind us completely Spanish speaking. Uncountable mini-Annas and mini-Elsa run through the freshly renovated foyer, while the audience is further scattered with bearded couples in ironed Care Bear t-shirts and rainbow haired besties with round candy-coloured Sanrio rucksacks, tightly worn on their backs. The show is sold out, masks are encouraged but not enforced.
Outside, brightly illuminated rikshaws belt “Let It Go” when we leave the theatre at a school night friendly 9.30pm. This is the West End we missed. If there has ever been a time to treat yourself and the people you love to some West End tickets, it is now. We deserve this.
***** out of 5 stars
Music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, book by Jennifer Lee
We paid £82.30 per ticket in the stalls, C15 and 16 through Official London Theatre, also by using up Theatre Tokens.