Frozen – Live at the Hyperion is Disney California Adventure’s newest stage show, replacing the long-running and much-beloved Aladdin. It’s a new theatrical interpretation which immerses audiences in the beloved story of FROZEN. Frozen – Live officially opened to the public on May 27, 2016, and we saw the first show intended for the general population. It was a packed house full of FROZEN and theatrical fans of all ages, and quite an interesting experience, technical glitches and all!
“Immerses audiences” is an understatement. What Tony Award-nominated director Liesl Tommy, cast and crew have done with special effects is astounding. From young Elsa’s first snow flurry that appears out of thin air to a sled race on the snowy peaks of Arendelle and beyond, our whole theater ooh’d and aah’d at every turn. The show features a cast and crew of more than 200, six full musical numbers and a 2,200 square foot video wall which combine for a fantastic experience.
We were seated on the 2nd balcony, directly in the middle. This turned out to be a pretty good seat, as we could see the entirety of the stage below us and got the full effect of the 2,200 square foot video “wall,” which was really more like a vast curtain surrounding the stage. If you are seated in the front rows on the ground floor of the theater, you would completely miss this effect.
Now, I am not the biggest FROZEN fan. I felt let down when I saw the film for the first time in the theater, and I am in the camp that thinks TANGLED is the better movie. Seeing Frozen – Live theatrically? THIS is the theater experience I expected when I first saw the film! I honestly believe Frozen – Live is better than the the movie itself! I was far more emotionally invested in the characters in this live theatrical experience. The acting combined with the magical special effects and a few more poignant touches had me wrapped up in the story. My favorite part was (and I know it’s cliche) “Let It Go!” Between Elsa’s cape flying away, the magical ice staircase appearing, a gigantic icicle chandelier dropping down and Elsa’s complete transformation into her sparkling blue gown, the whole audience was transfixed. We gasped! We sighed! We cheered! It was a moment.
Master puppet designer Michael Curry, who co-designed the animals in “The Lion King” on Broadway, did an interesting job with the Olaf and Sven puppets. Olaf was amazingly cute and his puppeteer was amazing. He had the best singing voice of the entire cast and really worked on his Josh Gad impersonation. Sven, however, had the puppeteers head sticking out of his back. Now I don’t know if it was that we were up so high or the contrast of the actor against Sven’s gray coloring, but the head was disturbing! I’m sure if you were down on ground level, the actor’s head was hidden some of the time by Sven’s head, but because we were so high up we could see that head wherever it went, and it was harder to see the expressions on Sven’s actual face.
Because the Hyperion Theater is now a dedicated Frozen – Live show, it absolutely looks and sounds the part. The theater has been transformed to accommodate Frozen – Live with projections and Disney’s real “snowfall.” We felt transported to Arendelle, especially because this was an hour and nine minute show! The cast and crew hasn’t ironed out all the kinks yet, though. Right before Olaf’s “In Summer” song, his music failed to play, and Olaf got quite good at long, awkward pauses that we thought were quite funny at first. That is, until a disembodied voice come on the microphone to tell us “we are experiencing technical difficulties, the show will resume in a moment.” Anna, Kristoff and Olaf trooped offstage leaving a restless audience. Unfortunately, the 5 minutes we waited gave some naysayers enough time to start a chant in the theater: “Bring Back Genie!” Then all the FROZEN fans got upset at them, but fortunately the show resumed before it could get truly ugly.
Beyond a few more technical glitches, Frozen – Live continued through to the final scene in which Anna transforms into ice. The effect is AMAZING! And the show ends by bringing back a few unexpected characters for a poignant reprise and finale that absolutely had me dabbing at something in my eye.
I can’t WAIT to see this show again, in different parts of the theater. I have no doubt each will bring its own unique viewing experience. And what’s better than over an hour seated in air conditioning on a hot summer’s day? “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” will be playing 3 shows a day. You can obtain Fastpasses if you arrive early enough in the day, or wait in the Standby Line for the show of your choice. To give you an idea, Disney California Adventure opened at 8:00 am on May 27th and Fastpasses were gone for all 3 shows by 9:00 am. We waited 3 hours in Standby to see the first 1:00 pm showing. I’m sure those wait times will go down once the show has been out for awhile.
Let me know what you thought! Did you experience any fun technical glitches? Do you have any questions? Let’s see your responses in the comments. To keep up to date on family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.