This winter, you might be sick of the snow — especially when it starts to pile up. Six inches of wet snow have the same weight as 38 inches of dry snow, which can be good if you “want to build a snowman“, but not so much when you need to shovel the driveway. That said, you and your kids might soon decide that the cold never bothered you anyway. That’s right: Disney’s Frozen is set to start Broadway previews later this month, putting the “white” in the Great White Way.
According to a survey conducted in the spring of 2016, over 47 million Americans said they attended a live theatre event within the past month. Broadway offerings have become more popular than ever in recent years, and Disney has showed they have a true knack of adapting their acclaimed animated films for the stage. Beauty and the Beast ran for 13 years on Broadway and has become a staple on both national and world tours; the live-action film version inspired the newest stage production that can currently be found on-board the Disney Dream, one of the company’s most popular cruise ships. The Lion King is currently enjoying its nearly two-decade run on Broadway and earned its spot in 2014 as the top-earning title in box office history for its stage and film versions. The Little Mermaid enjoyed a much more modest Broadway run, but has since become a popular title in regional adaptations, and Aladdin has held its Broadway spot for nearly four years now.
But Frozen, one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time and arguably Disney’s biggest hit in years, may not have to work as hard as the others to convince people to buy tickets. Any parent with young children knows how infectious and irresistible the movie’s soundtrack is. And judging from production photos and rehearsal footage, the stage adaptation looks to be every bit as magical as one would hope.
That said, according to director Michael Grandage, the show isn’t merely the movie placed in a proscenium. The basic story remains the same, of course, and your favorite ear-worms like “Let It Go” and others still remain. But the stage musical also explores the tale’s main characters, Anna and Elsa, much more deeply than the film does. Plus, composer team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez have returned to pen four new songs for the show. (Those songs will be released in advance of opening night, in case your kids want to learn them before you go.) There’s also a heavier emphasis on choreography in this version, which has grown and changed even since the initial out-of-town tryouts and throughout the Broadway rehearsal process. If you were worried about being bored during the Broadway version, you can put those fears to rest.
Grandage told Playbill.com: “Anna’s connected to the fairy tale element of the story, and you’ve got Elsa connected to something mythic. I wanted to explore that. With this piece of theatre, we can add songs and scenes and take these two huge strands to a much greater place. You can create tension for an audience that knows the story of the film, where you help them believe that we in the theatre may provide a different outcome.”
Disney hasn’t always been seen as the most inclusive in terms of diverse casting; it’s a tough line to walk because, particularly in the theme parks, they feel a responsibility to stay true to the (usually animated) source material and cannot deviate too much from it. But that seems to be changing. In the Frozen performances in both Disney World and Disneyland, actors of color are now being featured in the roles of Anna and Elsa on a regular basis. And in the Broadway production, the role of Kristoff will be played by a black actor, Jelani Aladdin. James Brown III, who plays King Agnarr, and Anna’s standby, Aisha Jackson, are also actors of color. Considering that the employment of musicians and singers is projected to grow only 3% from 2014 to 2024 and opportunities for performers of color are even more scarce, Disney may be on the right side of history here. While it’s certainly not the first time diversity has been represented in a Disney production, it’s a sign that the company is moving in the right direction.
Disney’s Frozen on Broadway is set to begin previews on February 22, 2018 and will officially open sometime in March. So if your little ones are Anna and Elsa fans or you’re simply looking to get swept up in a terrific story and score, you might want to consider getting tickets. We think some people (or in this case, some shows) are worth melting — or freezing — for.