Global hit musical FROZEN is at home in Australia as winter sets in. Based on the 2013 record animation, the musical is full of themes about family, love and acceptance: things the world needs right now according to matt lee, who plays Olaf the Snowman. I chatted with Matt to see how one of Australia’s most recognized dancers ended up in the show and what he hopes people take away from it.
While Olaf looks like nothing matt lee played before, he deliberately avoided labeling himself throughout his career. “It’s true that I started out dancing,” says Lee, well known for having been a judge on the Australian version of So you think you can dance. “But I also thought early on that to give myself the best chance of being a performer, I needed to work on my other skills, so I was still young when I started performing and singing. I wanted to work as hard as possible to everything. and being able to bring a variety of skills to everything I do.”
The philosophy of hard work has been consistent throughout Lee’s life and has provided him with many interesting and unique opportunities. “I’m still learning and developing, and there are still times when new skills come up that I need to develop and use. I never dreamed of wearing a motion capture suit and dancing like a penguin during happy feetand here I am twenty years later obliged to add the puppet to my repertoire!
it is not the first time matt lee played an iconic role, with his portrayal of Bert in the musical Mary Poppins which won him a Helmpann Award in 2011. It might be easy to play on what audiences know about these characters and emulate their iconic beginnings, but matt lee not happy to do that. “I never try to be another actor. I don’t want to act Josh Gad playing Olaf, I just wanna be matt lee play Olaf,” Lee says, thinking of the well-known original character from the film. “It was the same playing Bert. Dick Van DykeThe portrait of is well known, but I don’t want to be known for being like someone else. In every role I play, I want to be myself, so while I recognize that people will come to these shows with a clear idea of who the characters are, all I want to be is me.”
The weight of waiting is something matt lee is familiar, aiming to entertain in any role he has. “No matter what role I play and no matter what people know about this character, I always want to entertain. It’s my job and it’s what I love to do. Knowing that I’ve been tasked with conveying the many weird and wonderful sides of these characters is something I think about a lot.” You would think that with such a long career and so many performances under his belt, Lee would be somewhat used to it. “It’s something I never get used to! In fact, it’s something I spend more time thinking about as my career progresses. I guess I’ve gotten a bit more comfortable with it. the way I sing or play or dance, and I guess that leaves more time to reflect on the expectations that are placed on me.”
Struggles come with a sense of fun, and while FROZEN certainly had its share of setbacks, Lee thinks it made for a more enjoyable experience. “We were held back by the pandemic of course, then when we got to Queensland we were held back by the floods, so we spent all that time working together but being apart,” Lee said when asked. asks him about his connection to the rest. of the cast. “If anything, though, it brought us together because we have this shared experience. I love the opportunity to work with Jemma Rix because she’s such a big part of Australian theater, but everyone in this show is incredibly talented. I can’t help but be happy to work with this group and I hope I can channel that happiness and joy to Olaf.”
The character of Olaf has many layers and matt lee sees this as an opportunity to learn many lessons. “On the surface, Olaf is silly, but when you think about it, it’s something Anna and Elsa created as kids that comes back to them as young adults and helps guide them.” Lee himself is familiar with the idea of guiding people, using what he learned and appreciated as a youngster to enhance the work he does as a dance teacher. “Olaf teaches us that it’s important to be a bit of a kid, to do things sometimes just because they’re fun, and when he says the first thing that pops into his head, he shows that sometimes the first thing to think about is There are so many amazing themes in FROZEN, like the value of family and the need to belong, but Olaf isn’t some dumb prop to those themes, he’s a part of them and there’s lots of lessons to learn from him. try my best to get him across, even though Olaf’s focus on stage is the puppet and not me!”
FROZEN THE MUSICAL is in Perth at the Crown Theater from August 25th. Tickets and more information are available at Frozen the Musical Australia.