The Fame Reporter interviewed unstoppable Australian performer, Samm Hagen, part of the ensemble and understudy to the iconic role of Elsa in Frozen the Musical. Playing in Brisbane until May at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre.
Samm is best known for her performance as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde The Musical, for which she received a Green Room Award nomination. Her other credits include Diva in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Pat in Kinky Boots, both for Michael Cassel Group, a Molly cover for Ghost (GWB), Ann alternate for King Kong: Live on Stage, Rock of Ages (New Theatricals), Rock Rhapsody: Music of Queen, Spiegelicious, Rhythm of Life, All Aboard and the new Australian musical Jack Frost playing Violet Flowers.
Along with her cast mates Samm received a Green Room Award for Best Ensemble in Rock of Ages, was a Rob Guest Top 6 finalist, and was also a featured vocalist in Legends in Concert at Crown Casino.
We talked to Samm about what enticed her to want to join Frozen the musical, Elsa’s story of self-love, balancing her ensemble role whilst understudying the iconic Queen Elsa and more.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Samm, what sparked your interest in performing initially?
I always sang around the house, but I saw Annie when I was seven and just went ‘THAT! I want to do that!’… And here we are!
What about ‘Frozen’ enticed you to want to be involved in it and what was your reaction when you found out you were going to cover the iconic queen that is ‘Elsa’?
Idina Menzel being a part of the movie initially enticed me, and then when they got Caissie Levy involved in the show I just knew it was a role to manifest.
When I found out that I was going to understudy the role of Elsa, I just cried. I BAWLED my eyes out to my agent on the phone. I was so overwhelmed with joy after such a long audition process.
Do you have a role in theatre that you are dying to play?
Growing up, it was always Elle Woods and Elphaba. I’ve ticked one off that list!
How does the show portray the relationship between the two sisters Elsa and Anna and how does it touch on the role ‘isolation’ plays in this story?
The dialogue between Elsa and Anna is so beautifully written in the show, but it’s really in the acting. Elsa is trying to be warm and loving by keeping her sister at arms length, and Anna is just throwing love at her to get Elsa to return to her. Elsa is constantly fighting the urge to reach out to Anna, both physically and emotionally. There’s lots of COVID safe social distancing on Elsa’s part.
The show really highlights the love that they [Anna and Elsa] share, and how different people do different things to protect the ones they love, even if they don’t always understand it at first.
If you could build a snowman in real life created from your personality what traits would it have what would its name be?
I mean, it would be a TRAVESTY to not call it Samantha after Frozen 2, wouldn’t it?! I think I’m quite a smiley person who’s in tune with others needs, so definitely a big grin and maybe a long pair of arms for hugs and to match my own lankiness as a human.
What do you love about Elsa’s narrative and what have learnt about self-love from this story?
I just think Elsa is so beautifully written in the show, you really get to dive deep. I love the seriousness of her contemplations, and how she really does everything for her sister, even if Anna doesn’t know it. The only moment Elsa really has for just herself is ‘Let It Go’, and that is so empowering to perform and to feel.
Elsa is a reminder that concealing our problems and pushing them down out of fear just creates a stronger storm, and if we lead with light and love, everything will be easier…
Also that having a sister that loves you as much as Anna does is a gift.
What is your favourite part about your ensemble track and your favourite group number to perform in?
I really love running through the gates when the ensemble enter in ‘First Time In Forever’. I’m right down the front and I just get to charge through while belting my face off and taking in the joy and the view. It’s so lovely.
What have you learned about yourself whilst performing in this show?
I’ve learned through Elsa, as cliche as it sounds, to just LET IT GO. I hold myself to quite a high standard when it comes to my craft, which can sometimes mean small mistakes end up taking up a lot of unnecessary brain space. She’s taught me that shoving those emotions down and saving them for later don’t do anyone any good, and to just let them go.
Growing through her [Elsa] has really improved my self-talk.
How do you think the song ‘Monster’ encapsulates Elsa as a woman trapped with her own inner demons?
When I’m understudying the role of Elsa, Monster is my favourite number in Frozen to perform. The lyrics and the melody so perfectly follow her inner crisis, and it ebbs and flows at the right moments. She asked herself one of the toughest questions out there in order to save the ones she loves. You vocally get to explore her feelings as well. Who doesn’t love swapping from thin fold to a full belt at the drop of a hat?!
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Patrick Stewart, Barbra Streisand and my personal hero, Michael Falzon.
As you know, ‘Frozen’ focuses on the idea of sisterhood, has there been any on or off stage bonding with this incredible cast?
The cast had an immediate bond just based on the circumstances surrounding COVID. With the show being delayed and the uncertainty of the times, we were so thrilled and so lucky that we got to do this together, and continue to navigate Arendelle together.
I’ve made some very close friends on this show, and grown closer to old ones. It’s been very beautiful.
Why do you think fans worldwide love this show and what is unique about the stage production in comparison to the movie?
The musical dives deeper into the characters and the hardships they face, so I think fans can relate to these queens and princesses more than they could before in the animated film.
The technology and the costumes/wigs are out of this world, it is a visually stunning show.
What is it like juggling and knowing your ensemble track as well as being ‘Elsa ready’ when you are asked to don the iconic crown?
As we’ve gone along and I’ve gotten to do the role more, it’s easier to juggle multiple tracks. I’m lucky that my ensemble track sits around the same notes as Elsa so I don’t have to ‘sing them in’ all the time, but I do sing through Elsa’s show once or twice a week just to check on it.
I don’t like having to think about the notes or vocal placement when I go on, I want it to be sung in so I can just act it and live in her the whole time. Jemma is also a dream to cover, which makes my job a whole lot easier. A stellar human being.
Why should Australian audiences come along and see Frozen?
This show couldn’t be more appropriate for the times. A story about family who love each other, and keep distanced to keep each other safe.
It’s joyous, it’s beautiful, the effects and incredible, and I bet adults love it more than the kids.
Fame Reporter Word Play
Elsa, of course.
Some kid of loud bird.
A list of unrealistic things.
Cats or dogs
I’m obsessed with my little kitten Dax, I love dogs too, but Dax has pushed me over to team cat for now.
Frozen 1 or Frozen 2
Eurovision? I don’t know why?!
Favourite mantra when you are down
You have done the work. You are enough.
Any secret talents
I’m quite skilled at Mario Kart.
Let it go
That dress reveal.
DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE?!
What, like it’s hard?
Big Summer Blowout or Eternal Winter
Big Summer Blowout for suuuuuure
Savoury or Sweet
Dressing Room necessity
The musical and our season got cancelled due to COVID.
Rock of Ages
Nothing but smiles.
Favourite Frozen song
Place you want to travel to
Australian theatre scene
Hard to navigate, but a joy to be a part of
Feel nothing but joy.
TV Show Binge
Finally, favourite thing about performing
The feeling. You can’t replicate it, no you don’t feel it anywhere else.
Thank-you for joining us at The Fame Reporter and we wish you all the best for Frozen the Musical!
All photos and videos – Supplied