One of the most hotly-anticipated musical events of the year has finally arrived on our sunny shores – Disney’s Frozen the Musical has come to Singapore in a flurry of snow, and promises a spellbinding adventure of sisterhood, magic, and letting it go.
Playing for only 50 shows, Frozen the Musical marks multiple milestones, being one of the very first shows to open in the Asia-Pacific region in December 2020 in Sydney after major lockdowns, and the first international musical to come to Singapore since the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 440 tonnes of scenery, costumes, custom made shoes and more, the production quality of the musical is next to none, a musical that feels like it comes straight from Broadway or the West End.
Based on the hit 2013 film of the same name, Disney never spares any expense when it comes to adapting their films to stage. An inspiring tale of sisterhood and true love, it features the songs you know and love from the original film plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers, and assures audiences of moving, spectacular experience filled with pure joy.
Led by director Benjamin Osbourne, the musical presented local and regional media with a special preview before its official premiere night on 8th February, with cast members Jemma Rix (Elsa), Matt Lee (Olaf), Thomas McGuane (Hans), Sara O’Connor (Anna) and Brendan Xavier (Kristoff). The musical also features six local children who take turns playing younger versions of Elsa and Anna, and an incredible ensemble and backstage crew working tirelessly to make the magic happen.
“I love working with the creative team here, because they’ve given us the freedom to create and play and explore to find our versions of the characters,” says Sarah O’Connor (Anna), who joins this cast from the West End production. “I can’t wait to get into work each day and be with the cast, and the best part about playing Anna is that there is so much versatility, I insert my own clumsiness and silliness, and every night, the show feels different.”
“The whole team works so well together, and there’s a lot of love and support. It’s a musical that really promotes finding inner strength and self-assurance, from both its lead characters, and for me, the best part is how inspired I feel when I see the young kids in costumes, and they really seem to brim with confidence when they walk out the theatre after the show,” she adds.
As the villain of the piece, Thomas McGuane still manages to find some sense of good in Prince Hans, and perhaps even gets the audience to root for him before he shows his true colours. “Prince Hans is a complex role, but I have to play each part of him sincerely,” says Thomas. “I make sure that there is always truth at every point, from finding a connection with Anna when he falls in love with her, to the eventual twist. Essentially, he’s charming and romantic, but also boisterous and cunning, and really fun to play.”
As one of the newer members of the cast, Brendan Xavier expresses gratitude and thanks for getting such a big break so early on in his career. “I was originally an understudy for Kristoff, and to get to play him now feels like a dream,” says Brendan. “There are challenges of course, but not as challenging as the people puppeteering Sven the reindeer, who is huge and really feels like a real animal. There’s a lot of chemistry because he’s essentially an extension of Kristoff, and beyond that, I love how we’re constantly discovering new facets to this character, up till today. It’s a joy to play him every night, with such wonderful people in both the company and the audience as we explore him together.”
And it is Jemma Rix, who plays Elsa, certainly the most challenging but beloved role in the show, that offers some words of advice on preparing for a show. “As an actor, you have to make sure you take care of yourself, from getting enough sleep, to hydrating, to food, and to preserve your voice, like avoiding loud places to reduce fatigue and strain,” says Jemma, who was previously here in November to promote the regional launch of the show, and previously played Elphaba in Wicked. “It’s easy to forget that Elsa uses her voice so much in both dialogue and song, and you want to be at your peak when you’re standing there onstage, and giving the audience your all before hearing their applause.”
“I think people are really going to love the magic that goes into the show,” she adds. “When I first watched the show myself, I thought it was really all automated and well-done illusions, but working on it, you become even more amazed that it’s actual humans creating snowstorms, and feel the wind in your face. It’s only through rehearsals that you learn exactly where to be when you need to make the magic happen, and behind the scenes, there are so many people who put in so much time into rehearsals to get everything right as we work together, and it’s all worth it when you see how the audience goes wild each time Elsa performs a bit of magic, and really gives you that buzz.”
Never in her life did Jemma think she would land the role of Elsa, and for that, she believes it is a big step forward for musical theatre casting, and relishes the opportunity. “You know, I never dreamt that I’d one day get to play a role like this, which I thought would be reserved for Idina Menzel types. But now that I have, it opens the door not only for me to other kinds of roles, but for other actresses to play Elsa as well,” Jemma continues.
“I think so many people can relate to Elsa’s fears and insecurities, and then being able to sing ‘Let It Go’, and just that huge sense of liberation and wanting to embrace your own uniqueness, it motivates people,” she concludes. “It’s a beautiful production, the songs and dance numbers are so varied and have purpose moving the plot forward, and I think it’s going to be a wonderful season here in Singapore.”
Frozen The Musical plays from 5th February 2023 at the Sands Theatre. Tickets available here
Frozen is a wonderful musical