An icy reception! Frozen's Broadway adaptation divides opinion as some brand it 'visually dull and boring'... while others declare it's here to stay
Being the stage adaptation of one of Disney's highest-grossing animations meant expectations were always going to be high.
But the Broadway production of Frozen seemingly failed to melt the hearts of its audience when it made its debut at the St. James Theatre in New York City on Thursday night, as the hotly-anticipated production received a rather icy reception from many of its critics.
Despite being in the trusted hands of Broadway phenomenons Cassie Levy (Elsa) and Patti Murin (Anna), it seemed reviewers found the show made for lacklustre viewing as show-makers attempted to recreate Frozen's infinite kingdom, which is gripped by perpetual winter, on a finite stage.
Icy reception! The Broadway adaptation of Disney's Frozen has divided opinion after making its debut at New York City's St. James Theatre on Thursday night
Deadline write: 'Exactly how far Anna has to travel is never made entirely clear here, largely due to a stage-bound claustrophobia that [Director Michael] Grandage doesn’t overcome.
'We see lots of running back and forth across the set, along with some nifty and trapeze-like bridge-crossing, but Anna and her pals’ adventure lacks the journey-like feel of the film or Dorothy’s trip along the Yellow Brick Road. The stakes seem so much lower than they should.'
While the 2013 movie is ultimately a tale of love and sacrifice, with darker moments softened by a peppering of comedy, The Hollywood Reporter claims the stage adaptation's anecdotes undermine the poignancy of the story.
Oh, dear! Despite being in the trusted hands of Broadway stars Cassie Levy (Elsa) [pictured] and Patti Murin (Anna), it seemed reviewers found the show made for lacklustre viewing
'The comedy interludes too often': The Hollywood Reporter claims the stage adaptation's continuous anecdotes undermine the poignancy of the story
They write: 'Rather than serving to vary the tone and leaven the gloom, the comedy interludes too often just feel strained, as in the second-act opener, "Hygge," led by Oaken (Kevin Del Aguila), proprietor of a general store and sauna on the mountain route.
'This silly, mock-Scandi ditty builds to an incongruous "nude" kickline as the chorus files out of the sauna wielding strategic birch branch body coverage. It stops the story dead in its tracks.'
The comment conflicts slightly with that made by Variety, who claim that the 'soggy plot' is rescued by the humour delivered by actor Greg Hildreth, who portrays beloved snowman Olaf.
Pulling out the stops: Patti Murin wowed in a dramatic gown which boasted a theatrical black tulle skirt for the opening night
Lady in red: Her co-star Caissie Levy made for a stark contrast in a demure red, satin dress
They write: 'Finally, here it comes, what all of us grownups have been waiting for: the entrance of Olaf, the funny little snowman the sisters created long ago, when they were children playing in the nursery.
'In “person,” Olaf is a goofy looking puppet. (“Hi, everyone. I’m Olaf, and I like warm hugs.”) As interpreted and manipulated by actor Greg Hildreth, he’s a clever little scamp who brings a lot of heart and humor to this chilly show.
'To the extent that a plot exists at all, it’s a soggy one. There’s a lame attempt to make a villain of the ambitious Duke Weselton (Robert Creighton), but the real conflict, the stuff of drama, is all internal — Elsa battling her inner self — and difficult to dramatize.
'The show succeeds best at this challenge in the familiar anthem “Let It Go,” Elsa’s despairing acceptance of her dark-magic gift.'
Proud: Timothy Hughes and Olivia Phillip beam broadly as they hold hands and take a bow on their big night
Overjoyed: Caissie gracefully gifted a member of the team with flowers on stage
The most brutal of reviews arguably comes from The New York Post's Johnny Oleksinski, who bluntly starts his commentary: 'For its new stage musical “Frozen,” Disney should’ve heeded the sage advice of Queen Elsa: Let it go.'
He goes on to seethe: 'Well, here’s what I know: “Frozen” is not a very good show.
'That’s a shocker because the film, clocking in at a digestible 1 hour and 49 minutes, is so charming. The characters are lovable, the concept is clever and the icy CGI landscapes have a magical Nordic beauty about them.
'Its Oscar-winning big song by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, originally sung by Idina Menzel, is Disney’s best in years.
Dressed to impress: The cast dusted off their finest ball gowns for their big night
Dividing opinion: Variety write: 'There’s a lame attempt to make a villain of the ambitious Duke Weselton [Robert Creighton - pictured]
'But on Broadway, where it’s snowballed to 2 hours 20 minutes, the production’s attempt to replicate the movie onstage has backfired. And not spectacularly. The once lovely story has become visually drab, mechanical and often boring. Cold, if you like. '
Focusing particular attention on its Tony-winning director Michael Grandage, they rave: 'Michael Grandage refines the tale by putting the focus on the emotion first.
'He brings a lot of heart and humour': Variety claim that Greg Hildreth rescues the musical as beloved snowman Olag
Jovial: The cast look in high spirits as they bid their first audience good night
'Grandage is a director accustomed to Shakespeare and therefore to people trapped by secrets — even in the midst of glittering sets and impressive snow tricks, the bond between the sisters effectively and literally takes the spotlight.
'Fans of the movie will be pleased to find Anna and Elsa safe in Levy and Murin’s gloved hands, and doubters may just find their hearts thawed.'
Vulture have heralded the Broadway show as one that will stand the test of time, despite already dividing audiences.
They enthuse: 'Frozen has its ups and downs. But powered as it is by gale force blasts of earnest exuberance, a host of solid, sunny performances, and a surfeit of stunning visuals, it confidently throws its fuzzy hat in the ring for a long and lively life on Broadway and, of course, beyond.'
Standing ovation: Cassie and Patti received lavish bouquets of flowers as they relished their curtain call
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