By now, you would’ve seen the posters, and heard the main chorus of ‘Let It Go’ blaring across MRT stations, or at least the one at Orchard. What’s so special about this broadway production then? Other than the fact that it features one of Disney’s biggest animation movies in the last decade, the Singapore season of Disney’s Frozen The Hit Broadway Musical happens to be Southeast Asia’s only stop, which makes it a rare occasion to be swept away by music, magic, and more.
Now playing at the Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands till 19 March 2023, the stunning new musical is presented by the same producers who gave us our previous runs of the Aladdin and The Lion King musicals (Base Entertainment Asia), while bringing to life the breakout tale of sisterhood and true love through an immersive theatrical experience.
This means all the heart of the animated film’s moving storyline, now coupled with beautiful real-life sets and costumes, an amazing cast, and an expanded score that includes all the classics, as well as a dozen new songs.
Our personal take on the musical? Having seen it on its premiere date, we can safely say that it’s every bit as magical as a Disney film, while the musical faithfully portrays the beloved tale of two sisters, Elsa and Anna, with much love and care.
That it focuses on this sisterly bond, already a groundbreaking concept when the movie first came out, is at the core of the story, since it’s a tale of precious, true love without emphasising a princess’ need to be saved by a prince — this empowering premise alone should excite both children and adults, whether you grew up loving Disney or not.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up 5 other things you may look forward to, and be amazed by, as well.
1. This production of Disney’s Frozen is Southeast Asia’s only stop — which explains why they’ve pulled out all the stops for the show’s spectacular staging.
We went in with the high expectations of a Disney production, and were definitely not disappointed. We’re talking top-notch effects, seamless moving sets, and staging that made the experience a true spectacle. Imagine recreating the look of glittering frozen fractals as Elsa belts out her tune of empowerment; or an entourage of actors moving in unison to mimic the raging power of a storm. The lead actors themselves waxed lyrical about the stage choreography during the pre-premiere media call, where actor Thomas Mcguane (Hans) described that particular stormy scene as a “locomotion of feelings that feels chaotic”.
Several iconic scenes from the movie are also reimagined in greater detail, from Elsa’s and Anna’s childhood beds that glow with magic, to an ice bridge that represents the treacherous icy landscape traversed by Anna, Kristoff and Sven. What literally gave us goosebumps too were the incredibly coordinated harmonies by the ensemble cast, especially in the big numbers such as ‘For The First Time In Forever’, an apt way to introduce the princess’ expanded universe.
2. Lead star Jemma Rix (Elsa) played Elphaba in the Asian tour of another hit broadway musical, Wicked.
Returning in another lead role, theatre performer Jemma Rix is here to enthral as the conflicted queen Elsa, who has to wrestle with hiding her growing power (“conceal, don’t feel”) before she finally embraces her true self and destiny in the well-known power anthem ‘Let It Go’.
While she said she does feel more vocally challenged in the role, since Elsa’s repertoire often involves big, belty numbers and a higher register, Jemma said she felt no desire to fit into previous interpretations of the character — essentially, making Elsa her own. “You got a basis for who she is, but how that flourishes and comes out is unique,” she said, emphasising that the most important part is to be truthful when fleshing out the character in order for audiences to connect with the literal ice queen.
“Elsa motivates people,” she added. “She’s all ‘I’m just gonna be me, flaws and all, and embrace the uniqueness of me’, and you connect with that because you want to do that in real life.”
3. The musical introduces a new song, called “Monster” — a gripping number that delves deeper into Elsa’s inner world.
During the musical’s Regional Media Launch late last year, we were also privy to Rix’s rendition of ‘Monster’, a gripping new song in the repertoire. The stage production features a full score, including 12 new songs by the original Academy Award-winning songwriters written especially for the stage.
‘Monster’, in particular, comes in during Act 2 when Elsa (spoiler alert!) realises she has frozen her kingdom of Arendelle, and thus starts to question herself and the extent of her powers. “All my songs are deep and reflective and talk about fear,” said Rix. “I always want to do the right thing and connect with the character, and the song’s written so well that it kinda just flows out.”
4. The lovable Olaf is a puppet!
Olaf is the kind of character that melts hearts, thanks to the snowman’s unabashed innocence that makes him a wholesome comic relief. Read: his solo song ‘In Summer’, arguably the favourite number of Olaf actor Matt Lee as well.
Interestingly, the character is being brought to life by some skilled puppetry from the performer, who talked about having to acquire a completely new skillset thanks to the musical. “You see my face as well though, and I still have to tell the story via that, as well as through the puppet,” he said.
Just wait for it, you’re guaranteed to hear some audible gasps from the audience once this fan-favourite character appears on stage. As for why he’s so beloved, Lee described how Olaf has zero filter but still sees life as half-cup full, a character that brings joy to the world. “We can be a little more like Olaf,” he added.
5. Elsa’s iconic “ice dress” is made up of 14,000 individual, hand-sewn beads.
Now, we’re about to throw you some impressive statistics, all of which show the intense dedication brought about by the production and staging crew. To get a sense of the scale of the production, know that there are 440 costumes on stage during the course of the show, as well as 120 pairs of custom-made shoes and 90 handmade hats.
Most impressive though are the costumes worn by the lead characters; the precious embroidery on Anna’s coronation gown took over 100 hours to create by hand, while Elsa’s glittering ice dress took three months to put together, thanks to the 14,000 crystal beads that shimmer intensely during her most defining moment — one that you definitely do not want to miss during the show’s limited run at the Sands Theatre.