×
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

  • Alexander Dinelaris

    'Jekyll and Hyde' Movie in the Works Based on Broadway Musical

    The Broadway musical “Jekyll and Hyde” is getting the movie treatment from Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris. Dinelaris, who is writing and producing the adaptation, won an Oscar for the “Birdman” script and was a co-producer on “The Revenant.” He is producing “Jekyll and Hyde” as the first project under his New York-based development company, [...]

  • Sam Mendes

    Listen: The 'Balls-Out Theatricality' of Sam Mendes

    If you find yourself directing a Broadway play with a cast so big it includes a goose, two rabbits, more kids than you can count and an actual infant, what do you do? If you’re Sam Mendes, you embrace the “balls-out theatricality” of it all. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “There is a kind [...]

  • James Corden Tony Awards

    James Corden to Host 2019 Tony Awards (EXCLUSIVE)

    James Corden has been tapped to once again host the Tony Awards, Variety has learned exclusively. “The Late Late Show” host previously emceed the annual theater awards show in 2016, and won the Tony for best actor in a play for his performance in “One Man, Two Guvnors” in 2012. “I’m thrilled to be returning to [...]

  • Frozen review Broadway

    ‘Frozen’ the Musical Opening in London in 2020

    “Frozen” the musical is coming to London and will open in the West End in fall 2020. The Michael Grandage-directed Disney Theatrical Productions stage show has been on Broadway for a year. Grandage’s production is now set to re-open Andrew Lloyd Webber’s refurbished Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are behind the [...]

  • Nantucket Sleigh Ride review

    Off Broadway Review: John Guare's 'Nantucket Sleigh Ride'

    Anyone who doesn’t have a cottage on the Cape or the Islands, as they say in Massachusetts, might be puzzled by the title of John Guare’s new play.  “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” is no Revere Beach amusement park ride, but an old whaling term for the death throes of a whale that is still attached to [...]

  • Kiss Me Kate review

    Broadway Review: 'Kiss Me, Kate'

    No, Kate doesn’t get spanked. And for those wondering how the dicey ending of “Kiss Me, Kate” — that musical mashup of “The Taming of the Shrew” and backstage battling exes — would come across in these more sensitive times, well, that’s also been reconsidered for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival of the Cole [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    West End Review: Tom Hiddleston in 'Betrayal'

    It takes three to tango, and Jamie Lloyd’s “Betrayal” completely grasps that. Having made it his mission to modernize the way we stage Harold Pinter’s plays, his chic, stripped-down staging starring Tom Hiddleston as a cuckolded husband might be his best attempt yet. Pared back and played out on an empty stage, this masterful play [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content