Come next February, the forecast for the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands is set for snow. That’s right, the temperature is about to hit subzero, as Disney’s Frozen – The Broadway Musical arrives in Singapore!
Ahead of the production, the media were treated to a special preview of the show, where Resident Director Benjamin Osborne, and cast members Jemma Rix and Matt Lee were in town to talk about their roles and the gargantuan task of bringing the hit musical to life. Taking place at Marina Bay Sands’ AVENUE Lounge, where the underground club was swathed in blue and musical collaterals, members of the regional media gathered in anticipation for the sneak peek at what was to come.
The animated film Frozen was released by Disney on 19th November, 2013 and was a critical and box office smash, earning over USD$1.28 billion in worldwide box office revenue and becoming the highest-grossing animated film at the time as well as the highest grossing musical film, before being surpassed by the remake of The Lion King in 2019. The first film won two Academy Awards including Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“Let It Go”), and two Grammy Awards for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media and Best Song Written for Visual Media (“Let It Go”).
In bringing the world of Frozen to life, the show will feature 440 costumes and 120 pairs of shoes onstage, including the incredible ice dress Elsa changes into after performing the showtopping ‘Let It Go’ midway through the musical. That dress alone takes 3 months to construct, with 2 months of intricate embroidery and beading work. Meanwhile, the show also features 45 tonnes of flying scenery to transport audiences directly to the world of Arendelle, and if you buy tickets to stall seats, you might even get close enough to spy some hidden Mickeys.
Frozen is nothing short of a massive production, requiring 26 containers to ship all props and sets over, and featuring over 100 cast and crew. It’s an event to be cherished, with Singapore being the only stop in Southeast Asia on this particular tour, and even feature local children playing the roles of young Anna and Elsa.
“We’re taking a short break after our show in Perth, but very excited to bring the show to Singapore next year,” says director Benjamin Osborne. “When Disney brought Aladdin here in 2019, it was such a fantastic production to have in a gorgeous country like Singapore, and we hope we can recreate that same magic with Frozen. We took about 3 or so rounds of auditions over 6 months to find our ideal cast, and I’m proud to have Jemma and Matt working with me, to put their own spin on the characters and tell the story in such a beautiful way.”
Says Jemma Rix, who was last in Singapore playing Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked: “There was immense pressure on me as we got through the various stages of auditions, and I kept telling myself ‘I can’t stuff this up!’. And then when you get into the rehearsals itself, that dress you wear, with 14,000 crystals? It’s heavy! But even though it’s hard, with 8 shows a week, I remain immensely grateful for the opportunity this has afforded me, in making me a better performer by helping me understand my voice and technique better, and constantly work on my craft.”
On the differences between playing Elphaba and Elsa, beyond not having to come home and wash off the green makeup, Jemma says: “There’s different challenges to each role. Elphaba has a lot of dialogue and yells a lot, but maintains a constant singing range. Meanwhile, Elsa has two zones for her singing voice, and is technically challenging for me. But having the chance to do such a variety of roles allows for more space in creativity, and makes me so happy to be in this line. There’s a lot of pressure to live up to everyone’s expectations of Elsa, but what’s most important is to find the emotional connection that audiences resonate with.”
Jemma also treated audiences to a rendition of the song ‘Monster’ from the musical, as Elsa questions her own character and wonders if she truly is as monstrous as everyone says she is. “She’s still not 100% sure of how to control her power, and not sure what she should be doing, but she is trying her best and ultimately a compassionate person who tries not to hurt anyone as she finds out who she is and do the right thing,” says Jemma. “It’s really quite a powerful number. All of Elsa’s songs are deep and reflective and about fear, and they’re all written so well, which helps me put out her compassion into the world.”
Meanwhile, Matt Lee, who plays Olaf, will be performing in Singapore for the first time. Audiences were treated to a rendition of ‘In Summer’, which perfectly captures Olaf ‘glass half full’ mentality. “I actually auditioned for Prince Hans at first,” he says on his role, which also features him puppeteering Olaf from behind. “People will see both the actor and the puppet, and it’s about juggling both at once. Josh Gad did an iconic job for his voice acting, but no one is coming to see an imitation of Josh Gad, so I’m sprinkling the role with my own flavour to make it feel authentic.”
Finally, it wouldn’t be a teaser without the grand finale, with Jemma performing her version of ‘Let It Go’, and ending the media preview on a bang, and getting us excited for when it arrives in Singapore. No words, just watch the performance above, and pencil in a date to catch the musical phenomenon when it arrives next February.
Frozen The Musical plays from 5th February 2023 at the Sands Theatre. Tickets available here