An edited version of this review was also published in Apt613.
“Freezing” at The Gladstone theatre, steers far enough from the movie echoed in the title to breed familiarity and anticipation – queue many young girls in their finest Anna and Elsa gear – while Ken MacDougall delivers an original storyline guaranteeing a unique and uproarious night out for all ages.
Set in the troubled land of Snow Globe Queen Gerda (Gab Desmond – in a stellar cross-dressed performance) is keen to marry off Princesses Hanna (Esther Vallins) and Adele (Jessica Vandenberg) to preserve the icy kingdom. Enter Hans (Will Lamond), the winter-hating villain of the piece, who threatens endless summer if not granted a royal wedding and all measure of comical action ensues with an eager beaver, a troll with low self-esteem, a handsome ice-man, a tornado and many twists and turns.
To the unacquainted a pantomime is “British theatre traditionally performed at Christmas incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, cross-dressing, in-jokes, topical references, and audience participation.” Audience members cheer the heroes, boo the villain and in this instance some young one’s even had a hockey shoot out.
Costume and styling connect the younger audience with accessible characters while the fresh and fun writing hold that engagement. The cast is charming with particularly strong comic performances from Desmond, Lamond and Shelley Simester as Rubble the troll. The music and choreography are wholly successful as the cast deliver wonderful, rousing song and dance numbers.
Freezing’s is well-paced with seasonally whimsical moments. The music and adventure keeps kids entertained while tongue-firmly-in-cheek asides on everything from the Red Blacks to the LRT and talented performances secure adult amusement. Despite a few not altogether successful jokes, such as the 3-pigs / Senator scandal and an unfortunate commercial break in the proceedings, producers Sarah & Matt Cassidy deliver a winning panto which should well become Ottawa newest holiday tradition.
Dec 18- Jan 4th
Evenings 7:30PM, Matinees 2:30PM
The Gladstone, 910 Gladstone Ave.