By Maria Bregman
Frozen, the musical adaptation of the Disney phenomenon, has been a hit with audiences of all ages since it opened in the West End in September 2021. The show, which features dazzling costumes, sets, and special effects, as well as catchy songs by the Oscar-winning duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, has brought joy and magic to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, which underwent a £60 million renovation before welcoming back theatregoers after the pandemic. But the winter wonderland will soon come to an end, as Disney Theatrical Group announced that Frozen will close on 8 September 2024, after being seen by over 2.8 million people.
The decision to end the show’s run may come as a surprise to some, as Frozen has been a critical and commercial success, earning rave reviews and several awards and nominations, including four Olivier Award nods, such as Best New Musical. The show has also attracted a loyal fan base, who often dress up as their favorite characters and sing along to the familiar tunes, such as “Let It Go”, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”, and “For the First Time in Forever”. The show has also showcased the talents of its cast, led by Samantha Barks as Elsa, the ice queen with a powerful voice and a hidden secret, and Laura Dawkes as Anna, her optimistic and adventurous sister. Barks, who is currently on maternity leave, will return to the role in February, while Jenna-Lee James is playing Elsa until then.
So why is Frozen leaving the West End after only two and a half years? According to Disney Theatrical Group, the closure is part of a planned strategy to make room for new productions and to expand the show’s reach to other markets. “We are incredibly proud of Frozen and the impact it has had on audiences around the world,” said Thomas Schumacher, president and producer of Disney Theatrical Group, in a statement. “We look forward to bringing this beloved story to new audiences and territories in the coming years, and to continue the legacy of Frozen on stage and screen.”
One of the ways that Disney Theatrical Group plans to continue the legacy of Frozen is by launching a competition for UK secondary schools to be the first to present the full-length version of the show. The United Kingdom of Frozen: Love is an Open Door initiative will give one school in every region across the UK the chance to win the stage rights and to receive support and guidance from the Frozen creative team and Disney Theatrical Group. The competition, which will open in March 2024, aims to celebrate the power of theatre and to inspire the next generation of performers and creators.
Frozen may be saying goodbye to the West End, but it is not the end of the road for the musical, which is based on the 2013 animated film that became the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and spawned a sequel in 2019, as well as a short film and a series. The musical, which has a book by Jennifer Lee, the film’s co-director and screenwriter, and is directed by Michael Grandage, will continue its North American tour, which has been running since 2019, and will also open in Australia, Japan, Germany, and Denmark in the near future. A third film is also in the works, which will likely boost the popularity and demand for the musical.
Frozen may be melting away from the West End, but it will leave behind a legacy of enchantment, empowerment, and entertainment, that will live on in the hearts and minds of its fans and in the history of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, which was restored to its former glory thanks to the show. As Elsa sings in the finale, “The cold never bothered me anyway.”