×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ Will Surprise Movie Fans

It sounds like such an easy gig: Make a Broadway musical out of “Frozen,” the Disney animated smash that already had a score filled with stage-ready songs.

But Broadway types know that a theatrical adaptation of a beloved movie has to both satisfy the fans by giving them what they love about the property, and also stand alone as a stage musical with new material that might surprise but never feels out of place. Disney’s walking that tightrope with “Frozen,” which gives audiences plenty of “Let It Go” but also some “Monster” and “What Do You Know About Love?” — to name a few of the new tunes producers have begun to introduce to fans in advance of the musical’s March 22 opening.

“What Do You Know About Love?,” for instance, is the central element in a sequence that reimagines the meet-cute of Anna and Kristoff (the bickering couple-to-be played onstage by Patti Murin and Jelani Alladin), changing it from the action-packed wolf chase of the film to a bantering tune that sees the duo cross a perilously icy rope bridge. Further switching things up: the fact that Anna isn’t in one of her familiar costumes from the movie; she’s wearing warm men’s clothes provided by Kristoff.

“That’s the first time where we’re shifting the audience’s expectations there,” said director Michael Grandage, who’s bringing “Frozen” to the stage with composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and book writer Jennifer Lee, the Oscar-winning creators of the film. “The song gives us an opportunity to bring out the characters’ stubbornness,” he noted, “and it also gives us a chance, through a moment where both of them are in peril and then saved, where we can see each of them observe that this person is more than I thought they were.” In that, he added, are found the first hints of the romance that will eventually blossom.

That sequence on the bridge is one of several changes the show makes to the movie’s template, of which the most prominent is the reimagining of the film’s rock-like trolls as elven “hidden folk” drawn from real-life Scandinavian folklore. That shift has required some fine-tuning: A hidden-folk narrator, who relayed the events of the story in the musical’s pre-Broadway bow in Denver, has been excised. “I think we confused too many people,” Grandage said. “I was giving audiences a double-whammy, giving them this new thing in the hidden folk and then giving them something else new with the narrator.”

Also since the Denver run last summer, one song has been cut, and another one — the finale — has been rewritten. The opening sequence has been entirely reworked, so that a whole lot of storytelling and song happens even before the first break for applause.

Changes were made for the stage for a number of reasons — one of which was the social climate in which the show is opening. “With where we are politically in the world, talking about women in society, here we are doing a musical about two very empowered women,” Grandage noted. “We wanted to bring those themes out even more.”

And a recent change for the Broadway version will have audiences humming on their way out the door: There’s now a reprise of “Let It Go.”

More Legit

  • Bryan Cranston First Time in Variety

    Bryan Cranston on His Early Roles, Dealing With Rejection and His 'Erasable Mind'

    Following his 2014 Tony Award for best actor as President Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way,” Bryan Cranston is looking to add to his trophy collection this year with his performance as Howard Beale in “Network.” The deranged anchorman — who’s famously “mad as hell and not going to take this [...]

  • Ink Play West End London

    Wary Theater Rivalry Between London and New York Gives Way to a Boom in Crossovers

    Give or take a little tectonic shift, the distance between London and New York still stands at 3,465 miles. Arguably, though, the two theater capitals have never been closer. It’s not just the nine productions playing in duplicate in both locations — believed to be the most ever — with three more expected in the [...]

  • Alex Brightman Beetlejuice Broadway

    How Alex Brightman Brought a Pansexual Beetlejuice to Life on Broadway

    Alex Brightman gives the deadliest performance on Broadway — in a good way — in “Beetlejuice.” The big-budget musical adaptation of the 1988 film directed by Tim Burton has scored eight Tony nominations, including best actor. To play the frisky role, Brightman (“School of Rock”) dons Beetlejuice’s striped suit and an assortment of colorful wigs [...]

  • Santino Fontana Tootsie Broadway Illustration

    'Tootsie' Star Santino Fontana on the Challenges of His Tony-Nominated Dual Role

    Santino Fontana is doing double duty on Broadway this year. The “Tootsie” star scored his second Tony Award nomination this month for his hilarious portrayal of struggling actor Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels, the female persona that Dorsey assumes to win a role in a play. The musical, based on the 1982 comedy starring Dustin [...]

  • Dear Evan Hansen

    Broadway Cast Albums Find Fresh Footing With Hip New Sounds, Viral Outreach

    Mixtapes. YouTube videos. Dedicated playlists. Ancillary products. Viral marketing. Epic chart stays. These are things you expect to hear from a record label discussing Cardi B or Beyoncé. Instead, this is the new world of a very old staple, the Broadway original cast recording. Robust stats tell the tale: Atlantic’s “Hamilton” album beat the record [...]

  • Ali Stroker Oklahoma

    Ali Stroker on 'Oklahoma!': 'This Show Doesn’t Follow the Rules and That Is So Who I Am'

    Ali Stroker is no stranger to rewriting history. With her 2015 Broadway debut in “Spring Awakening,” she became the first actor in a wheelchair to perform on the Great White Way. Three years later, she’s back onstage in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” as Ado Annie, the flirtatious local who splits her affections between a resident [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content