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Frozen on Broadway - Where did they go wrong?- Page 2

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trentsketch
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joined:6/25/09
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For me, it felt like a lot of ideas that didn't add up to the spectacle that could have been. The Olaf and Sven puppets were great. The costumes were lovely. The lighting was strong. 

It's been said on this thread already. That's what they did with Let It Go? There are better production values in the Finding Nemo musical at Disney World than in THE iconic song of Frozen. You can't have what's essentially a witch manifest her true powers under her control for the first time as the Act I closer a few doors down from Wicked and leave it as a park and bark. That was a misfire on the level of those god awful acrylic towers in Little Mermaid. 

And Hygge was a thing.

What I will say is Disney was making bank on the Frozen Jr licensing. Every children's theater and about half the schools in my area all did productions within a few months of the license being available. There were kids who came to the production I music directed with 2 or 3 other productions of the show on their resume. High Schools were doing Frozen Jr. This is High School Musical stage rights level of enthusiasm just for the junior version. Imagine what the full length version is going to do when it becomes available.

Updated On: 5/15/20 at 11:53 PM
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BwayBaby18
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I agree with all of those that have cited the lack of magic leading to its mediocrity. The thing that I really found it to be missing was heart. This could be due to the fact that it was rushed. I still think Anna's 11 o'clock number was totally misguided. You have this magical snowman that is the link of happy times between these two estranged sisters and you don't let them impart the lesson. They have one of the greatest lines in the movie "some people are worth melting for" and you don't choose to make that moment the song? 

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RippedMan
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I personally found nothing exciting in this venture in the design or new songs. If you watch the Disneyland version online, the staging is fun and interesting - using a mix of lifts and turntables. This was just static and boring and dark. 

Also, I think having a "princess musical" is just kind of boring. What makes "Lion King" so great is that it is so artsy and different, but telling such a great story. Same with "Beauty and the Beast." 

But then again "Aladdin" is doing great, so who knows? 

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blaxx
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MrsSallyAdams said: "The film's structure did not lend itself to a musical. The songs are front loaded and the second half is a road trip. The book's attempts to compensate were unsuccessful.

This. The first few films of Disney's renaissance are written within a structure that can naturally flow into a successful stage musical.  There is very little about the Frozen property that can translate into something theatrical without a major revision.

They just wanted to capitalize on the franchise, and it once more backfired. Broadway is not always a sucker for mediocre efforts, as many out there think.

 

Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
Princeton2
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I think part of the main reason is the demographic issue. Disney relies heavily on nostalgia, and that's the same for their shows. The audience that can afford broadway prices were kids during the disney renaissance so will either want to see something beloved from their childhood or introduce their children to something they loved. Frozen hasnt built that audience yet. The Lion King also had the added benefit of a unique and spectacular staging that has yet to be matched. So with no nostalgia and a standard staging it was limiting its appeal.

The Little Mermaid was such a massive misfire that not even nostalgia could save it. In fact it wasnt close to what people loved about the movie so they stayed away.

Also the 90s movies (and Poppins obviously) felt like stage musicals, they had the structure, staging and strong songs. Frozen doesnt have the same feel or structure and the songs weren't really presented in a showstopping way. Plus the majority happen within the first 20 minutes. Of the recent movies Tangled is closer to a move traditional musical
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devonian.t
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I'd be very interested to see Bob Crowley's designs.  He is a brilliant craftsman.

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fashionguru_23
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devonian.t said: "I'd be very interested to see Bob Crowley's designs. He is a brilliant craftsman."

I saw Tarzan, and we all know how that turned out (I, personally, thought it was one of the most interesting and creative nights in the theatre). So, I can only imagine what Bob Crowley's designs would have looked like. 

I also think like someone said earlier that the show is front loaded with music. Correct. However, I know "Let It Go" is the big showstopper from the film, but that doesn't mean it HAS to close your first act. Be Our Guest wasn't followed with a intermission. Frozen seemed to drag act one, so we could get to the song, and then act two threw it all together quickly with songs that were versions of other ones heard earlier. I think this is my least favourite score of all the Disney shows. You have to think the Lopez's must be tired of trying to write for these characters.

"The 54th Street[theatre] had a rep as. . .where old musicals went to die." -Smaxie
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Phantom of London
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Complacency 

Which leads to shoddiness.

By which I mean Disney made the same mistake they did with Tarzan and The Little Mermaid and assumed the Disney brand in itself would be a home run and sell shows, they took their eye off the ball and forgot you still need to make a show very special, have that wow moment only that Disney can deliver as they did with their other shows.

Frozen was permission to print money, sure wasn’t this meant to be a massive hit, with every little girl walking out of the St James looking like Elsa via the Disnay gift shop. When this was announced for the St James, I though this was a massive coup for Jujamcyn and would be a massive cash cow.

Disney got sloppy and assumed Frozen brand would sell, they forgot about the product.

Frozen has closed at a loss, hell who would have thought that Frozen would be a flop.

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Dave13
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As others have mentioned, the show lacked magic or the wow factor. It was fatal that the show didn’t have the ice castle. Sure it could have been expensive to build an ice castle, but you can do so much with special effects to bring it to life. The glowing eyed trolls looked like aliens. I have no idea what that was about. Then the hot tub scene with half naked people dancing in a children’s show is just plain dumb. There was nothing great about that scene and it should have been cut.

I thought the original cast was incredible. The costumes were great. Beyond that, the show was mediocre at best.

I loved the movie and music. I really wanted the show to work. It lacked direction and imagination. I usually see shows more than once, but this was a train wreck that I didn’t want to see again.

Not to be confused with Dave19.
Updated On: 5/16/20 at 03:04 PM
RWPrincess
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joined:12/7/18
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I don't feel like this show was rushed at all. Schumacher and team learned a lot from The Little Mermaid and Tarzan and have been very careful not to repeat those mistakes. Frozen got its out of town tryout just like most other shows get and had a fair development process. 

Having seen this show several times as well as the tour version one time, I do think the tour version was superior as it helped fill in the plot holes that existed in the Broadway production. It's a shame that most won't get to this new version on Broadway now. I feel for the cast and crew involved. 

The show was definitely more of a one and done for most but it also wasn't performing too terribly each week either. It seemed to have more last minute sales rather than advance sales.

I do believe the shutdown is due to Disney pivoting based on COVID-19. Disney fans were not happy when Chapek took over earlier this year and it's because he's known as being a cost cutter. Numerous theme park examples of him cutting budgets on projects--in particular whenever there is a downturn, live entertainment at the parks is one of the first things he cuts. So this seems in line with that. Disney On Broadway rolls up under the Disney Studios line officially so with all the postponed movie premieres and straight to Disney Plus premieres coupled with live shows shut down, that division is no doubt struggling right now.

The good news is they still have 3 shows on Broadway in The Lion King, Aladdin, and Mrs. Doubtfire. Hopefully they will all be there when everything reopens. The Disney on Broadway Playbill bio was updated a few months ago to include Buena Vista Theatricals which covers the Fox shows like Mrs. Doubtfire and Anastasia.

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Dave13 said: "As others have mentioned, the show lacked magic or the wow factor. It was fatal that the show didn’t have the ice castle. Sure it could have been expensive to build an ice castle, but you can do so much with special effects to bring it to life. The glowing eyed trolls looked like aliens. I have no idea what that was about. Then the hot tub scene with half naked people dancing in a children’s show is just plain dumb. There was nothing great about that scene and it should have been cut.

I thought the original cast was incredible. The costumes were great. Beyond that, the show was mediocre at best.

I loved the movie and music. I really wanted the show to work. It lacked direction and imagination. I usually see shows more than once, but this was a train wreck that I didn’t want to see again.
"

I maintain, if they had utilized columns like 9 to 5 did. Have ice columns rise out of the stage, have fly in pieces come in to connect and create a structured frame, have pieces slide in from the sides, and then use projection to tie it together. You could have created this show stopping scenic moment where the castle really gets built. 
 

Imagine she sings “paaaast” and starts to rise up on a balcony of ice that comes from the stage, her costume change happens, stairs slide in to connect to each side of balcony, as she rises. Black out. Iconic. 

Jordan Levinson
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Having done a lot of Shakespeare in the past, director Michael Grandage decided to tap further into the character's emotions. At times, that worked, but it usually didn't.

As others have said, the show lacked spectacle and "Let It Go" was underwhelming. The costume change and the offstage ensemble backing Levy/Renée up for the final chorus were nice additions though. Much like The Little Mermaid was over a decade ago, this was a DTP project that had potential but was unfortunately placed in the wrong hands. The new songs were poor, with a couple of notable exceptions. The supporting characters were not given much more depth than the far-superior movie. The first 20 minutes were fantastic and sent chills up my spine (quite literally), but the rest of the show seemed to drag. It certainly doesn't help matters that Elsa and Anna are not on stage together for much of the show.

I wish we all could've seen how Alex Timbers would have approached Frozen. He gave both Beetlejuice and Moulin Rouge! the spectacle they needed and beyond. Disney Theatricals has gone downhill big-time since Chapek replaced Eisner. 

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fashionguru_23
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The costume change in "Let It Go" is very lackluster. The fact that the blocking is to go far upstage, on a big note and have the lights flash, so it can go through the floor (providing it is pulled fast enough) isn't the magic that we expect from Disney. Also, the pull through the stage/set was perfected in act two of Cinderella a few years earlier.  

"The 54th Street[theatre] had a rep as. . .where old musicals went to die." -Smaxie
ImaginaryManticore
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When I first heard they were making Let It Go into the Act One closer, my reaction was 'What!?'  The song appears 30 minutes into the movie, and is also the end of the first act, except that's act one out of three. In the movie it's an emotional turning point for Elsa and it happens right after she's kickstarted the plot. I never saw the show onstage, but if you move the song to a later point in the story, isn't it just an empty spectacle? That is, if you achieve the spectacle.

As others have said, the songs don't follow the structure of a stage musical and the whole story would need a lot of fleshing out to work onstage. It sounds like the creative team just didn't do the adaptation work it needed. They probably decided early on that Let It Go should be like Defying Gravity, except the midpoint of the movie is more like For the First Time in Forever Reprise. It's just occurred to me - that moment when Elsa turns Anna away using violent magic could have been a spectacle if they'd wanted it to be, as well as being a meaningful moment for the characters. Were they afraid fans of the movie would get angry if they changed too much?

BwayLB
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^ To be fair if Act One ended with First Time in Forever, just maybe I would have wanted to see the show. Let It Go works vocally but nothing else more.
sparksatmidnight
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I guess we can say Disney didn't let it go out of their wallets. This musical could have been everything the movie isn't, but they went for a glorified Disneyland musical

Impossible2
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The main problem with Frozen was that is really wasn't very good to begin with.

VintageSnarker
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I really don't buy the nostalgia argument. Tootsie is from 1982. The potential audience doesn't need time to build up nostalgia and nostalgia only goes so far if the show is mediocre. 

The argument for a longer gestational period only works if you think they were aiming for a more coherent, theatrical book, more spectacle and stage magic, and more compelling, memorable songs. They were trying to get by with "good enough" when audiences wanted a show that matched or even improved upon the movie. 

JuneJune
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I'm probably the only one that enjoysHygge.

Anyway, I sure this has been said before, but I think that it tried to take itself more seriously than the book. Not darker per se, but definitely less catered to kids. I personally liked this approach (even though I feel like it failed in more than a few areas), but it definitely wouldn't resonate with fans of the movie that expect to have a "fun" time. If you look at the b-roll footage from the stage production compared to the movie trailers, they give off entirely different tones.

And no hate to Caissie Levy and Patti Murin at all, because they are extremely talented, and I say that as a fan. But I don't think they were the right cast for the roles, and evidently, so did a lot of other people.

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I think everyone said why: Constant changes in creative team, lack of nostalgia, and just thinking of greed over creativity.

I think the big problem with Frozen was the lack of Let It Go/Elsa. Let It Go was the biggest let down. The animated scene is iconic because you see Elsa grow confident and strong with her powers. You see her build a castle. The Broadway show where there are working pieces to build the "castle"......happens all behind a curtain. No excitement whatsoever. The Disneyland show does a much better job! 

That being said, when I read how they change up the plot in Act 1 to accomdiate Let It Go, I assumed that we would have one or two scenes with Elsa and her coming with terms of what have happened. Instead, she disappears for 20-30 minutes until the very end of Act 1. There's no journey here. In the movie, Let It Go happens two minutes after she runs away.

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When I saw the show in Denver, they asked for feedback. My biggest gripe was the placement of Let It Go, which of course, never changed. I thought it was ridiculous that she runs away and then Olaf is like "oh hey yea, Elsa built me in the snowstorm!" which no one ever sees and then when she reappears later she still hasn't transformed.

Thank god they redid the beginning of the show. That was a HUGE mess in Denver. 

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This is my 2 cents after seeing it back in January.

 

It felt sterile and cold (and not because of the snow) it just felt at one time like a theme park show, yet shallow. Perhaps the effects could have been better although I loved the projections.

There is something about Lion King I love, the aesthetic and all that makes you feel like you are watching something special (faults asside), with Frozen I felt like I was almost watching a film, there was a strange disconnect between the show and the audience that I dont usually get with shows I love. It is hard to explain, it almost felt like I am here in my seat and you are up there on the stage, it sounds silly but i cant explain it better, there was just this disconnect, perhaps it was too polished.

Another thing that bugs me but I dont think was a factor is the story, why they ALWAYS feel they HAVE to change the script from the movie. and NO, not having a staircase did not make a difference, lol.

But I was not surprised by the closure, the theatre was 2/3 full back in january when ALL the other shows I saw were FULL. so I believe COVID or not, it would have closed this year at some point,

 

Perhaps it would have done better at a smaller venue

http://www.flickr.com/photos/27199361@N08/ Phantom at the Royal Empire Theatre

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