Following today’s debut of Frozen on Broadway, the reviews for the show are coming in. Here are some of the snippets of what the critics thought.
New York Times: …sometimes rousing, often dull, alternately dopey and anguished Disney musical.
Variety: 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.
The Hollywood Reporter: For anyone expecting more than a straight-up rehash of the movie on stage, however, this pricey production will seem low on inspiration. Disney Theatrical has had its misfires, most notably The Little Mermaid, a boring, baffling mess that smothered the ample charms of its source material in design choices so hideous they made your eyes bleed. Thankfully, this is not that show. Under the direction of Michael Grandage, Frozen doesn’t entirely go wrong, but it does evince signs of the struggle to establish a consistent, unifying tone and to settle on a center in a story inherently bifurcated by having two heroines kept apart for most of the action. It ends up being merely adequate, a bland facsimile when it should have been something memorable in its own right.
LA Times: “Frozen” likely won’t have many repeat customers, but its agreeable competence will satisfy hardcore fans who are curious to understand more about the plucky, climate-meddling heroines who devise their own happy ending through sisterly solidarity.
NY Post: The show checks off every box on the “Frozen” checklist, so why is it so much worse? In a live theater experience, audiences have different expectations than with animated films — namely human connection and relatability. It’s mighty difficult for Elsa to connect with anybody when, for much of the show, she is alone in a faraway ice palace.
NY Daily News: When all is said and sung, “Frozen” ends on just the right note by upending a fairy-tale cliché. Kisses are great, the show reminds, but the test for true love is measured by what’s in one’s heart. Think that’s corny? Well, let it go.
Entertainment Weekly: Notably, Frozen’s path to Broadway has been stormy. The production cycled through two directors, two set designers, three choreographers, and two Elsas before its tryout run in Denver, and some of those conflicting influences can be felt in the final product. But Tony-winning director Michael Grandage refines the tale by putting the focus on the emotion first. 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. B+
Deadline: Directed by Tony winner Michael Grandage (Red), the stage Frozen, opening tonight, doesn’t consistently live up to “Let It Go,” its book by Jennifer Lee (Zootopia) often feeling rushed, more concerned with hitting the movie’s beats come hell or cold water than taking the time to just enjoy the characters that the audience is primed to love.
Wall Street Journal: My guess, if I had to make one, is that the stage version of “Frozen” will appeal mainly to little girls who love the movie—but, then, there are more than enough of them to keep it running for a long, long time.
The Wrap: Over the years, the music in Disney’s Broadway musicals has grown less sweepingly romantic. Many songs in “Frozen,” in fact, are downright snarky without a snowflake of genuine wit. Musically, Anderson-Lopez and Lopez rely on a strong percussive element that would not be considered adventurous in any breakfast-food jingle of the last century.
You can come to your own conclusion by catching Frozen on Broadway.