Frozen on Broadway - Where did they go wrong?- Page 1

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Call_me_jorge
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If anyone on the board knows anything its probably that Frozen was never the financial hit that it couldve been. It also had a turbulent development, yet a rushed one. Im curious to know what people think Disney got wrong and how they shouldve handled the property in the first place.

I have a couple of thoughts:
I think they rushed this. As the film hit the billion dollar mark in box office sales they went full steam ahead at bringing the property to the stage. I dont think it gave them enough time to actually build momentum for the show. I think they were trying to recreate the magic and success of the lion king, but nothing is going to be as successful as the lion king. If they gave it 10-15 years, I think it couldve been different. It would have let the original audience grow up and eventually gain nostalgia for the property. See Aladdin or Newsies. Not only are children fan of those shows, but their parents are too. Parents weren’t bringing their kids to Frozen, because Frozen wasn’t a property they grew up with. It also seems like there was years of material being worked on at Disney Theatricals that ended up being shelved in favor for Frozen. Imagine if Hunchback had gotten to broadway or The Princess Bride being done by now.

Updated On: 5/19/20 at 12:20 PM
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bwayphreak234
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I, personally, really loved Frozen. I found it to be one of Disney On Broadway's better ventures. That being said, I think Frozen underdelivered on spectacle and stage magic - two things that made Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King so successful. While I enjoyed the understated approach, I can certainly see why and how this did not work in the long run. I would love to see the spectacle that Alex Timbers would have delivered if the property had stayed in his hands. 

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Broadway61004
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I actually don't think they went wrong with Frozen.  Yes, the Broadway production will go down as losing money and therefore be considered a flop.  But Frozen as a brand on the whole is still going to make a ton of money, and now this will spawn regional productions, high school productions, community theatre productions, etc. that will more than make up for any Broadway losses.  It was the same thing with Newsies--Newsies will have ended up only running about 6 months more than Frozen did, but has more than made up for it with amateur and regional productions.  I truly think that was the whole idea behind Frozen to begin with--come up with as much of a replica of the film as you can to bring in Broadway audiences for a couple of years, then live off that tour, regional and amateur production money that comes in from it.  If they wanted something completely innovative and new like Lion King, they would have kept Alex Timbers.

Updated On: 5/15/20 at 12:35 PM
copathetiic
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when i saw the stage production i had never seen the movie so i was going in blind and that may play a part in my view on it but the issue for me was that after the show was over i remembered the special
effects more than the songs or the story.
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Wick3
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I saw FROZEN roughly several times on Broadway and there were families with kids who attended the show. I did notice that in its first year most families were in the balcony section but there were a few who sat in orch/front mezz. In the past year with lower seat prices, I definitely saw more and more kids and families in the orchestra. 

I had seen the movie beforehand and loved it so I had a lot of expectations on how they'd do "Let it Go" scene. Well... I was underwhelmed. I expected more from Disney and perhaps other people did as well. 

I agree that they may have rushed this. Ultimately, I think they priced the tickets so high that only the top 2% families can afford to go. I think the cheapest seat in balcony was $99? In addition, word of mouth could have been better. 

Updated On: 5/15/20 at 12:52 PM
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BrodyFosse123
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The buzz was strong when it was first announced. After the disastrous word-of-mouth in Denver, interest and excitement dropped colossally. Folks who already had purchased tickets for the Broadway run prayed that things would be fixed and elevated based on the endless talk about how they were modifying the St James Theatre for Disney’s FROZEN. Then the show arrived on Broadway with zero done to the visual effects seen in Denver. Word-of-mouth continued to be negative and folks with tickets were looking for ways of selling them as they no longer cared to see the show.

That’s it in a nutshell. The production didn’t live up to the expected hype.

Islander_fan
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When I saw it, I was very underwhelmed. It felt like they rushed through the creative process. Like they wanted to get it onstage while the hype from the movie was still strong. I like the movie, but the show felt like it could have been better if the creatives took more time working on the show. 

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Luminaire2
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Disney has all the resources. They killed it with BatB, Mary Poppins, and Lion King (in terms of design, effects, world building).

Frozen had great elements, but Let it Go should have been a special effects, scenic design show stopper. It wasn’t. The ending of the show (the Anna freezing moment) was this out of place theatrical device that isn’t really used anywhere else in the show. Some big flaws IMO.

I firmly believe if they had built a closing act 1 number that lived up to the song, they would have faired better, and that’s a lot of pressure to put on one moment in the show... but I truly think they killed it with the simplification. Even the Disneyland resort version is more spectacular with the staircase that rotates over the audience. They also needed to create a spectacular climax.

I think Aladdin has the same issue at the end, with Jafar. The Disneyland resort version was for more spectacular then the climax they built for Broadway.

The Beast/Gaston fight in BATB was true spectacle. Rotating castle, fighting on the rooftops. A spectacular transformation.

Disney can do it, when they are willing.
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I was curious about this as well. For those who didn't care for it, why not? 

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VotePeron
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I found it one of the most mediocre musicals I've seen on Broadway in 10 years of theatergoing. There was nothing special about it, just some boring, unimaginative projections and a good performance from Cassie Levy. 

While no one will ever know, I imagine that firing Alex Timbers and Steven Hoggett was where they went wrong. Those are two of the most creative artistic minds in the industry, and I can only imagine what they would've come up with for Frozen. By insisting the show be as family-friendly as possible, they went the Aladdin route and sucked all imagination and creativity from the design. 

The biggest thing a few articles have touched on is that unlike Lion King and Aladdin, there's no nostalgia built around Frozen yet with couples and adults that would be willing to see it without children.

Disney assumed too much that the zeitgeist of Frozen The Movie would convince everyone in the world to automatically want to see the stage show. The assumed too much - that the show would be successful despite negative out-of-town reviews, that they would get Tony Award nominations for their actresses, that the NYC theater community could support it when it wasn't selling, the list goes on and on. 

There was a lack of Disney magic, craft, and imagination that I believe they felt they could scoot past because it was called Frozen. But the show was...Not Good. They only thought Newsies would have 100 performances, and it had 1,000...Hunchback is now a fan-favorite but they still won't bring it to Broadway...I can't pretend to understand.

Disney knows how to put the business in show business. 

Updated On: 5/15/20 at 01:37 PM
Jarethan
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I did not like it -- did not hate it either.  I thought the first act was modestly enjoyable, but that the secondactcontained not one but two of the worst production numbers I have overseen in a show.  And I HONESTLY am not exaggerating that point.  Hygge and another one were atrociously bad.

I also felt that the leading ladies could've been anyone, despite posters on this board being so positive about them.  They were thoroughly okay and I truly believe that anyone with reasonable talent (one a belter) would have been just as good.  That says as much about the writing of the characters as the performances.  I just didn't care about them.

I thought the sets were okay, but wanted more magic.  I will also admit thatI missed the big, applause getting, costume change during Let It Go because I was distracted by a fidgeting 5 year old sitting next to me who decided just before that point kick me in the thigh at a Thursday night performance.

The other issue is that expectations were just too big.  After the monumental hit movie, people were expecting too much...they were expecting a gold medal and they got 6th place.

I will also acknowledge that my wife and female friend, who knew it was not great, still managed to love it, so who knows.

Broadway61004
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Sutton Ross said: "I was curious about this as well. For those who didn't care for it, why not?"

I don't want to say it looked cheap, because the design and all was fine for what it was, but it just lacked any kind of spectacle or excitement to it, I felt.  It's not that it was bad, it just wasn't anything out of the ordinary.  But again, like I said above, I 100% understand why Disney did it that way, since the name itself was plenty enough to sell the show.

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ggersten
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I know we've been over this before. But, it was not "rushed" to the stage in relation to other Disney stage productions. Could they have taken more time? Sure.  It may have been "rushed" because the show had "flaws" that they didn't take time to fix - and that may have been due to a sense that the Frozen momentum was slowing and the moment to capitalize was fading - whether true or not. "Nostalgia" didn't bring in the crowds for The Little Mermaid - that film opened in November 1989 but the stage version didn't open on Broadway until January 2008 - eighteen years! So, to me, Frozen's flaws are Frozen's flaws - it was just an okay show without much of the magic - and, to me, the stage version exposed flaws in the film.  The stage show could have been more - it could have been less.  

For reference, Beauty & the Beast and The Lion King opened on Broadway in less time from the opening of the film on which they were based.. 

Beauty & the Beast opened in movie theatres in November 1991. The stage version opened on Broadway in April 1994. That's roughly 2.5 years.

The Lion King opened in movie theatres in June 1994. The stage version opened on Broadway in October 1997.That's roughly 3.3 years.

Frozen opened in movie theatres in November 2013. The stage version opened on Broadway in March 2018. That's roughly 4.5 years.

rattleNwoolypenguin
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I think the problem was it wasn't visionary. I think Disney coasted on the idea that Frozen on Broadway alone, no matter what it looked like would be a hit cause the property brought so much.

The other thing to consider every time people reference Beauty and the Beast is Beauty and the Beast was the FIRST Disney Broadway show, so that alone created an excitement, as well as it translated so well to the stage because there's something so innately broadway about the movie. 

The novelty of a Disney cartoon on stage is not that exciting anymore. You have to do something more with it. And as others said, "Let it Go" should not have seemed less spectacular than Defying Gravity.

I bet you 100 percent their ticket prices would've soared if she built an ACTUAL ice castle on the stage during that song like she does in the film.

As well as the fact that I think the second act of Frozen THE MOVIE weak. It just sorta plays out. The problems with the movie are too apparent onstage.

 

I actually find it very odd Tarzan didn't work. The structure seems like it could translate easily

windowwaving
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I strangely really love this musical, even though I can never watch the movie again and didn't care for the sequel. I've seen it on Broadway twice and saw it on tour in LA twice. I much prefer this show over TLK and Aladdin. 

Much as I adore Caissie Levy, I found her Elsa so underwhelming. You just didn't see much transformation from scared Elsa in the beginning to "Let It Go" Elsa. Add that to an underwhelming set, and it just didn't have the impact I was hoping for. I wish they did more effects a la Cursed Child where they transformed the ENTIRE theatre, instead of the easy-to-do projection mapping/screens. I've seen the stair case in the Disneyland version, and that always gets more reaction out of the audience than the dress change does.

I think the problem with the show in the beginning was that they took it TOO seriously. It was such a dark show. I remember when I first saw the tour, it immediately felt like everything was brighter. The set, the lighting, even the screen. It was like they were too scared to make it seem too cartoon-y or too much like the theme park version. I think if they implemented the tour changes earlier, it could have found its footing. It was a much snappier, faster-paced and coherent show. 

Then there's the confusing character development. Hans' reveal never made much sense to me. I kind of wished there were hints of it throughout the show instead of just "a-ha! I'm actually the villain!" For a show that focused on fleshing out Elsa, Anna and Kristoff, they kind of just didn't do much with Hans, or Wesselton. 

Not like there was much else they could do, but using the same puppet structure for Olaf in the theme park version and then the Broadway version felt kind of meh to me. 

I was really hoping to see the new cast and the changes implemented to Broadway. 

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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.

But the biggest problem, for me, was that they de-fanged Elsa. The moments in the film where she relies on violence were cut or rewritten. Thus there's never any sense that she's a threat or could become a "monster." Without that there are no stakes.

But then I have the same problem with Wicked, in that it never gives Elphaba a chance to become truly Wicked like the novel did. And that hasn't stopped it from running for ages.

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Greekmusicalfan
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I saw the show on December and it was by far my least favorite, out of the 7 shows I saw on my trip. I agree with everything others have said but am I the only one that really hated the score ? Besides Let it Go and maybe a couple of other numbers, all the new songs fell flat on their face. It was boring and unispiring ballad after ballad, for no reason and without driving the story forward. I had such high hopes for this, I love Disney, love Lopez, loved the film but at some point, I just couldn't wait for it to be over.

Updated On: 5/15/20 at 04:20 PM
windowwaving
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I remember hearing in a podcast that the Lopez' did feel rushed working on the musical and trying to write for Frozen 2 at the same time.

billis2
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One of the major problems is the lack of spectacle.  When I first heard Frozen was coming to Broadway, I thought, "Wow, the set will be incredible."  And it just wasn't.  The set was very ordinary.  Projections are not spectacle. And the ice coming out of the floor looked plastic and cheap.

Beauty and the Beast has a big, elaborate production number, and the beast transformation is really well-done.  Aladdin has a big number, too.  Mary Poppins has lots of magic tricks, a huge house that goes up and down, and Mary flying over the audience.  The Lion King has several spectacle moments.  Frozen didn't have a "wow!" moment.  It needed to have moments where the audience thinks, "That was amazing, and worth our spending hundreds of dollars and going through the trouble of bringing the whole family here."  But, instead, we have Elsa stomping her foot on the floor and a video image of an ice crack is seen.  I can see that on homemade YouTube videos every day.

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All I know is my husband I had amazing seats that we purchased quickly after the announcement was made that FROZEN was coming to Broadway.  We were anticipating Disney spectacle and an amazing performance by Cassie.... BUT then we saw promotional footage of "Let it Go" on TV or YouTube and were so underwhelmed/unimpressed we immediately put our tickets up for sale...   Perhaps sometimes TV and Talk Show promotions might do more harm than good?

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Theres so much that went wrong with this. A lot has been said already. I remember when they announced this with Alex Timbers and Bob Crowley doing the sets they made a big deal about how large and amazing the sets would be, that they would blow out the back wall of the St James for this and bla bla bla. I got so excited. They also said they would take their time to get it just right. Then suddenly less then a year from first preview they fired the whole team and brought in a completely new one! Like what?!

And now we’ve got what we’ve got. An uninspired blatant copy of the already flawed movie. Hans and Wesselton are jokes for characters. That reveal is so bad.

I really hoped they would rewrite the story for Broadway but they just took the easiest, least inspired choice for literally EVERYTHING. From set, to story, to costumes, to songs to puppets, to a screen and projections.

It has been a guilty pleasure of mine I have to say, but it’s just it could have been amazing.. and everybody in the audience saw that.
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kade.ivy
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I didn’t hate Frozen. I thought Caissie and Patti were excellent, and the design worked, even though it wasn’t my favorite.

I think the mediocre history of Frozen can be attributed to the obsession with SYNERGY that has characterized Disney the past several years. Schumacher once said in an interview that they specifically didn’t want the musical to diverge in look from the animated film (see the identical costumes and the Olaf puppet that looks like a plush you can buy at Disney World). This is a far cry from the Schumacher who recruited Julie Taymor to direct Lion King. Hopefully this shows Disney that there has to be artistic ambition in addition to property recognition for a show to become a “must-see” that can be sustained for several years. This Frozen wasn’t much different from the theme park and cruise ship live shows.

I’ll also briefly get on my soapbox about Disney under Eisner vs. Iger/now Chapek. Taymor has long praised Eisner for the control he gave her over Lion King. Eisner believed in creativity, and it showed on the Broadway stage.
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I walk out at half of the show. It wasnt like 'it s so bad i cant stand it'. It just I dont feel anything while watching. Zero.

And the people around me keep saying how amazing it was. When I look at them I can tell this s not a musical fan, they are just here for the kids because the name Frozen do it. So I think that s the problem that I have watched too many good, great, fantasticks show and my mind and body start to developed the get used to standard feeling. So for people who are new to musical or broadway show this still might occur to them as good.

I felt a bit hungry at half of the show so I just left.
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Play Esq.
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Where did they go wrong? They didn’t hire Stefan Herheim to direct. Now that’s a show I’d see over and over again.
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Billis2 - YES... No spectacle in Mermaid either. Another bad move show.