Frozen rehearsals are set to begin in London’s West End this week after facing delays amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Actress Samantha Barks auditioned for the part of Elsa in September 2019 but, nearly two years on, she finally starts rehearsals this week at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
She said: “People are waiting to get into a theatre and have a live experience and we’re desperate to give them that so it feels like an exciting responsibility and you feel grateful to be able to do that.”
Her co-star Stephanie McKeon, who plays Anna in the Disney fairytale story of two sisters kept apart by their magic powers, said they had kept in touch with each other during the long wait to bring the show to the stage.
She said: “We had each other, we were chatting all the time and had a kind of little support system so we cheered each other on and were able to stay in the right frame of mind.”
The musical, inspired by the hit Disney film, opened on Broadway in March 2018 and broke box office records.
Follow-up film, Frozen 2, was the highest grossing animated film of all time when it opened just months before lockdown.
The West End version, complete with a large cast and crew, will be the first show put on at the theatre after a £60 million restoration project.
It is a mark of confidence returning to London’s theatre sector which has been hit by venues closing their doors and then only being able to re-open with 50% capacity.
Cast and crew are regularly being tested for Covid as part of the precautions planned to try to make sure the show makes it to the stage without any problems.
One of the first shows to re-open in the West End, Walden starring Gemma Arterton, had to close for a night during previews when a crew member was contacted by track and trace.
Frozen has dozens more people working on it both front and backstage; it should play without any restrictions on the size of its audience.
McKeon said playing the opening night on September 8 to a full house was going to feel “very special”.
She said: “We are going to look back at this time in history and think we were part of theatre coming back. I think I’m going to be sobbing in the wings with make up running down my face before I even get on stage.”