Disney On Ice: Frozen, in London’s O2 Arena, was possibly one of the most spectacular shows I’ve seen. From the hardcore security checks (metal detectors, bag searches, and notices about not bringing in any food), to the gaggles of young girls in Elsa-blue dresses, and the booming Hollywood-style voice welcoming us into the 20,000-seater auditorium, everything about the entrance to the performance space was large and breathtaking (including the shocking £31 car parking charge at the O2. Book in advance, people. Or even better: use public transport. I certainly wish we had done).
We’d been gien a taster of the accomplished skating involved in Frozen, when we went to a session at Tower of London ice rink, and watched some of the stars perform a few paces. We saw them glide into impossibly long, whirling pirouettes; lifts as smooth as butter; and turns as swift as gazelles fleeing a leopard. What’s more, the stars seemed nice as pie, when they helped our children learn to skid around the rink.
The start of Disney on Ice: Frozen saw a couple of dozen characters from Disney’s back list come hurtling out onto the ice. Micky Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White, the Toy Story gang….they all zoomed around in one of the ensemble pieces which were, for me, the highlight of this show. The costumes in all hte ensembles were dazzling enough to glisten out perkily across the large arena, and the skaters wove around each other with jaunty grace.
Watching Frozen performed in a space the size of the O2 is never going to feel intimate, but during the solos, the characters would often come right to the side of the stage, or wave into the crowd, making it feel a little more personable. The show stayed true to the original film; at two hours long, with an interval, there was space in the performance to capture the whole story. The creatives made good use of the opportunity for special effects: the wolves, with eyes glowing like hot coals, were truly menacing, and Elsa’s snow monster slowly inflated up into a colossal, round, show-stopping spiky version of Marshmallow Man.
The singing and dialogue was so flawless that I did wonder whether it was pre-recorded. Whatever the case, the youngsters were delighted by the old familiar ‘Let it Go’ ‘Summer’ and ‘Fixer-upper’. And the comic foils, Olaf the snowman and Sven the reindeer, really came to the fore in this performance; I’m sure it’s hard to be chunky AND graceful when you’re skating at the backside of a ruminant, but Sven’s rear end somehow managed it.
We were given press tickets for this show. Prices are at the more expensive end of family entertainment, but I’d say that (extortionate O2 parking charge aside), the cost is worth it. You get at least as much verve and spectacle as in a West End show; and the lead actors play their roles with a depth of feeling that resonates, even in the large venue. Of course, the show is very Disney – and if that’s not your bag, you’re better off avoiding it. But for every big fan of Frozen, this is a performance that will stay with you possibly even after the memory of the film has faded.
Disney on Ice: Frozen closed at the O2 in December 2016. However, Disney on Ice presents 100 Years of Magic is now touring the UK.