BWW Album Review: FROZEN Original Broadway Cast Recording Is Perfect Storm of Heart-Warming Humor
FROZEN is Disney's latest foray in moving musicals from the screen to stage. The story of sisterly love is currently melting frozen hearts on Broadway, joining its current mouse-house counterparts ALADDIN and THE LION KING on the Great White Way (because of the snow, of course). Walt Disney Records released the original cast recording digitally on May 11, with physical copies available on June 8.
The first track of the album, "Vuelie/Let the Sun Shine On," introduces us to the world of Arendelle, but not without first hooking the listener to the tune fans know all too well, wondering if we wanna build a snowman. We are thrown into the world of young Elsa and Anna (played by Ayla Schwartz and Mattea Conforti, respectively), when we learn of Elsa's wintry powers that inevitably cause a lasting rift in the sisters' relationship when Anna is on the receiving end of her icy skills. In sure Disney fashion, their royal parents pass away, leaving Elsa next in line for the crown. This is just the start of the two heroines being kept apart most of the show, sparring songs in and about their distance.
In tow with the cast of familiar characters comes jaunty tunes featured in the film, along with it's built in fan base. The new musical expands upon the plot of the movie, diving deeper into the thoughts and motivations of the characters we have grown to love since our 2013 introduction to them. Academy Award winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez wrote over a dozen new tracks for the tale's transfer to the stage, adding to their library of hits from the film. The Lopez's add an instrumental breaks and some lyrical changes here and there, but for the most part we get new three-dimensional version of all the well known hits.
These new tracks delve deeper in to the plot by laying better foundation of the story, giving context to the inevitable plot points we are familiar with. For example, in the first act, we get a good dose of story and insight to the major players we did not get in the film. The new songs "Hans of the Southern Isle", "Queen Anointed" and "Dangerous to Dream", are one right after another sandwiched between "For the First Time In Forever" and "Love is an Open Door". These welcome additions give us a stronger acumen to the minds and lives of Arendelle. These tracks round out the story more, and in turn make it more dynamic.
The story of Frozen runs mostly on Elsa's panic, fear and guilt she feels for and of her icy powers. The role is portrayed here by Caissie Levy. From the start, the gloves she receives at as a child are the only antidote to her powers. However, they can't cover her fear. It's like putting a metaphorical band-aid on a wound that needs more serious attention. Elsa's first new solo number "Dangerous to Dream" shows us a softer more tentative and fearful side. Later on during Oscar winning song "Let it Go" and the new act two addition "Monster", we see an Elsa on the other end of the spectrum with more forceful rage and real sense of defeat.
Watch the brand new official music video of Caissie Levy singing "Let It Go" here:
This then leads us to the more trusting and whimsical sister, Anna, played here by Patti Murin. Where we see Elsa's shift in mood and tone earlier in the story, Anna's falls more on the back end of this show. Motivated by her love for her sister (whether she realizes it or not), one of the heavier moments of the album and show is what propels her to this conclusion. The moment is captured in the new track "True Love", where Anna sings of always having faith in love, but letting the fear creep in that it might be too late for her. These feelings drive her back into the cold, and next new track "Colder By The Minute", where she again mistakenly goes after true love from Jelani Alladin's Kristoff. The snowy chase sequence features Anna and Kristoff looking for each other, Elsa trying to find Anna, and Hans (John Riddle) going after Elsa. Chaos, confusion, and placing blame ensues. The pinnacle of this track leads us to the conclusion of the sisters love leading the way the whole time. As the movie told this portion of the story with dialogue and visuals, the musical tells with a belting, and passionate quartet. While it is more difficult to contain and portray all of Arendelle on a stage, the musical makes up for that fact performances like the ones in this track.
"Let It Go" is then repurposed as the finale. Where the song was originally was used as Elsa's declaration of separation, it is now recycled and applied for the love line between the reunited sisters. The melody commands your attention, so it's a smart (and rather obvious) closer.
While there are a few tracks that seem a little out of place and pull you out of the story (like the Act 2 opener, "Hygge"), for the most part this album will have you ready to pack your bags for Arendelle. Or better, the St. James Theater. This recording captures the spirit of the story. For such a chilly show, the music has a way of celebrating the sunshine with its warmth, heart and humor. After one listen, you are sure to be igloo-ed to this album.
Get the album and learn more about the show here!