We got Thomas Schumacher, President & Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, to thank for Disney's Frozen, The Hit Broadway Musical that is currently showing at Marina Bay Sands Theatre until 19 March 2023 with eight shows per week. It was back in 2013 that he viewed the animated Frozen before it was even shown to the public. He knew instinctively it was an animation made for stage production and immediately set about making it happen. Out of the 10 Disney Broadway musicals, Frozen remains the first and only slated for theatrical production before the movie's official release. And, of course, Schumacher was right. The 2013 animation went on to sweep award after award, notably two Golden Globe Awards at the 71st ceremony, on top of two Oscar nominations, including Best Original Song for Let It Go. In addition, the animated Frozen won Walt Disney Animation Studios’ first Best Animated Feature.
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Movies are finished, but shows are never finished. A live stage event is different every single time you perform it.Thomas Schumacher, President & Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions
Of sets, costumes, wigs, and shoes
Nothing is left to chance in this theatre production, and attention to detail is key. That explains the 26 shipping containers brought via sea, which includes 45 tonnes of scenery setups. The magic of Frozen goes beyond the fantastic sets and the awe-inspiring visual effects from Elsa’s ice strikes. Nor is it limited to Elsa's dazzling dress encrusted with 14,000 Swarovski crystals, Anna's beautifully hand-embroidered costumes or the 440 tailor-made costumes for each cast member. The on-stage costume changes are also nothing short of magical. Every item in the wardrobe is made considering each character's choreography, and the cast must learn to move with the heavy garment as they sing and dance. Some costumes can weigh as much as 18 to 20 kgs per character! That's not all; with 120 pairs of shoes and 90 wigs in use, which are also tailored for each cast member, a cast member shared that each wig is assembled and reassembled after every show and full-dress rehearsal so that they look their best. Who would have thought?
Talented actors cast a spell on audiences
What holds a show together is a solid cast. Disney Frozen Musical's cast is made up of namely; Sarah O’Connor (Anna), Jemma Rix (Elsa), Matt Lee (Olaf), Thomas McGuane (Hans), Brendan Xavier (Kristoff) and Yvan Karlsson and Evan Strand (Sven).
Jemma Rix (of Wicked’s Elphaba fame) is a natural draw. Her vocal range is stunning, not to mention the emotions she brings into Elsa’s numbers, especially hit songs ‘Monster’ and ‘Let it Go’. I heard a fellow musical-goer sitting beside me exclaiming, "Oh my god, I'm tearing up!" at the end of Act 1, after Elsa belted out a powerhouse performance of Let it Go.
When it comes to the trusty sidekick, everyone’s eyes are on Matt Lee’s interpretation of Olaf using puppetry. It was engaging and very interesting to watch. As one of the most beloved characters on the show, Lee had big shoes to fill. And, of course, judging from the wild applause from the audience on Gala night, he certainly did not disappoint.
Another worthy mention of the show is Sven and Kristoff. Due credit must be given to Yvan Karlsson and Evan Strand for depicting the lovable Sven. Imagine assuming the posture of a mammal throughout the performance – that is something only for those who are physically fit and, of course, dedicated. Evan Strand, who plays one part of Sven, shared about his preparation for the role, "I eat everything, and I work out every day.” His hard work is not in vain. Children and adults alike were enraptured by Sven the moment ‘it’ came on stage.
Naturally, no show is complete without a villain. Thomas McGuane’s Hans starts out as a swoon-worthy Prince with several outstanding performances with Sarah O’Connor’s Anna. The role of Hans takes on a fascinating character arc in the Second Act. I shall leave it to you to discover for yourself.
Yahoo chats with Sarah O'Connor and Brendan Xavier
What stood out for me was my favourite character – the affable Anna, who goes out on a limb for things she believes in, be it love or her trust in her sister. Together with Kristoff, she discovers herself and ultimately restores Arendelle to its former glory, thanks to her never-say-die persistence and belief in the good in everyone.
Yahoo Life Singapore is stoked to chat with leading lady Sarah O'Connor, who brings to life the effervescent Anna and Brendan Xavier as Kristoff. As new cast members to the show, Sarah and Brendan share their favourite moments from the musical, how they make their characters tick and why you should not miss Disney Frozen Musical.
Yahoo Life Singapore: What about the Disney Frozen Musical do you love the most? How does it differ from the movie, and why should we catch it live?
Sarah O’Connor/Anna: I love the energy and joy it brings. It shows the most beautiful relationship between two sisters with its ups and downs and how love can conquer all. Of course, there are some differences between the movie and the stage show, but the message is the same. But of course, in the live show, you are there with us as the story unfolds, so you get to be a part of it, feel all of the emotions and enjoy every single element as the story gets told! Plus, who doesn't want to see pure magic on-stage, live in front of your eyes!
Brendan Xavier/Kristoff: I love the spectacle of it, the magic effects and the brilliant performances by this amazing cast! There's a whole new array of songs and pleasant surprises that aren't in the movie that you'll have to come and watch to find out!
What makes Anna/Kristoff tick, and how do you bring out the character on stage?
Sarah: Anna is a doer! She does things but only sometimes thinks them through first, as we all do from time to time! She's a bundle of energy who believes in love and doesn't let fear get in her way! She's quirky and unapologetically herself; she shows her vulnerabilities while also championing others to be their best selves. She will always put other people first. There is plenty to love! When I enter for the first time in every show, I follow "young Anna" on stage, I usually watch her walk on and take some of her energy, so I feel connected and ready to continue the journey.
Anna is so inspiring [especially] to young girls. I see the confidence in how kids walk and gain strength after watching the show. Anna has a mind of her own and the two lead actors are powerful, empowering women.Sarah O’Connor/Anna
Brendan: The essence of Kristoff is to care and to help. He may seem unenthusiastic about things, but he cares deeply about other people's well-being, which is a beautiful character trait. What makes him so lovable is his interactions with different characters, especially Sven and Anna; he shows so much love and care. I think the best thing to do is to listen to the people around me as the character, and everyone informs the way I play it. He's so selfless that the more you hear as the performer, the better the performance is.
Which is your favourite scene and song? Why?
Sarah: This differs daily depending on how I'm feeling. I love the magic of live theatre! But generally…. Love Is An Open Door! It’s so fun and playful.
Brendan: It would have to be Fixer-Upper! It's just pure joy and so much fun to perform with the rest of the cast!
Share with us about your past performances in other musicals and how different has it been for you as Anna/Kristoff in Frozen?
Sarah: Anna is not like any other character I've played. Her determination and energy drive the show; I haven't had that before. She comes from royalty (even though she’s “the spare”), so how I hold myself is different because her upbringing is peculiar. Anna has grown up relatively isolated and has a lot of social awkwardness, so that’s new for me to deal with on stage, as big groups of friends and family have surrounded most of the characters I've played.
Brendan: This is the first time I've performed in a show as big as Frozen, so it's hard to compare, but the biggest thing that shocked me was how many people it takes to put on a show! There are many different people and departments, and it feels like one big family.
What are rehearsals like? Could you share with us a day in the life of a musical performer?
Sarah: Rehearsals are when everyone working on the show gets to know each other. We all get to explore our characters and how they interact and feel towards one another. The hours are long, and it's very tough but worth it! We have a lot of fun playing and trying new things to see what works for us and the characters. Here's what a day in the life of a performer looks like: a lot of snacks, water, keeping your body and voice warm and caffeine! We're active people, so it keeps us fit.
Brendan: Rehearsals are so much fun! I'm finding so many new things with the character, and it's such a great environment to play and learn with each other and new performers!
Is there a thing you avoid or do more of on performance nights?
Sarah: I tend to take some extra deep breaths to help settle the nerves and excitement I may be feeling. I tend not to eat too close to the show. There’s a lot of dancing and tight costumes in this show!
Brendan: I avoid spicy foods and anything that could give me indigestion!
What's your biggest challenge as a performer in the Disney Frozen musical? And how did you overcome it?
Sarah: The biggest challenge in Frozen the musical for me personally is how busy Anna is on stage; she doesn't stop! It's physical and emotional, and her story goes on quite a ride! So I go to the gym, rest well, eat well, and trust in my fellow actors. They make it so much easier! Once the show starts, any challenges feel small because we're all in it together and have so much fun!
Brendan: The biggest challenge for me is the stamina required to do so many shows per week, but as you get more experience, you get used to it, and it becomes much more manageable.
What can we expect from the megahit Disney Frozen musical?
Sarah: There is something for everyone: a magical kingdom, a beautiful ice queen, a place where people who feel different can fit in. It’s a cold and icy show full of ironic warmth, the sets will take your breath away, and the costumes will make you want to be a Disney Prince/Princess. The experience will be unlike anything you've had in a theatre before. So sit back, relax and go where the magic takes you as we welcome you to Arendelle.
Brendan: It would be easier to name the things you won't expect! It's full of heart, love, fun, laughs and exceptionally talented performers. There are so many new and exciting things added to the musical that it reinvigorates the story and makes audiences fall in love with this story all over again!
The story of Frozen is an enduring one – sisterhood, women empowerment, love and more. Disney Frozen Musical draws the audience in with a solid cast, enchanting music, stunning visual effects, striking costumes, and more. Disney Frozen Musical opened on 5 February with eight weekly shows until 19 March. Singapore is the only stop in South East Asia, so don’t miss this opportunity to experience the magic of Frozen!
Wish to own a piece of Disney Frozen to call your own? Yahoo Life Singapore scoured the Internet to find Elsa and Anna's costumes, plus the adorable Olaf plushie to accompany your trip to the theatres!