FROZEN THE MUSICAL Creative Team Reveals Changes & Challenges of Stage Production
In a new interview with The New York Times, the creative team of Disney's FROZEN THE BROADWAY MUSICAL discuss the challenges that they face in bringing the hit animated film to live theater. The show, scheduled to open at Broadway's St. James Theatre in Spring 2018, will play its out-of-town tryout at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts from August 17 - October 1, 2017.
"You want to do everything they know the piece to be, and go much deeper," says FROZEN director Michael Grandage of the stage adaptation. "It is incumbent upon us to come up with surprises."
According to Grandage, many adjustments had to be made in adapting the animated film to stage, beginning with the story's opening. The film opened on a frozen lake with a group of singing ice harvesters. The stage musical will open in a much different environment, a verdant landscape featuring a group of "scruffy, tailed creatures" called hidden folk, who are based on Scandinavian folklore, and sing in Norwegian.
In addition, Grandage reveals that a few of the film's minor characters will not appear on stage, including Marshmallow, the giant snow monster, and the pack of menacing wolves. The director also reveals that the trolls have been replaced with the hidden folk, who are less adorable and more mystical.
Changes have also been made to the story's length. The stage version will clock in at 20 minutes longer than the film, and will feature up to a dozen new songs, in addition to the seven from the film. The new tunes will deepen the characters' back stories and relationships with each other. One such new song will be a first act number for Elsa titled "Dangerous to Dream." In a new flashy Act 2 number, Elsa "grapples with the implications of having a power that she cannot control."
The production will consist of 40 performers and 22 musicians. Other impressive features will include palace doors which extend 20 feet into the air, and 64 different wigs donned by the actors.
Said composer Kristen Anderson-Lopez of the production, "You stand there in the back, and you listen for laughs, and you listen for the moments. And then your job after that show is how to figure out, 'How do I get them to lean in?' You won't know until you watch a 5-year-old and a 95-year-old watching this musical in Denver."
One of the highlights of the production will undoubtably be the performance of "Let It Go," a tune which has become synonymous with the movie. According to the Times, the number will include glittering snow from above, a fog from below, walls of ice, and "a twinkling curtain of Swarovski crystal snowflakes."
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Based on the 2013 film written by a trio of Oscar® winners, Frozen features music and lyrics by the creators of the film score Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Up Here, Winnie the Pooh, In Transit) and EGOT-winner Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Up Here) and a book by Jennifer Lee (Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph), the film's screenwriter and director (with Chris Buck). Frozen won 2014 Oscars for Best Song ("Let It Go") and Best Animated Feature.
The show will star Caissie Levy (Elsa), Patti Murin (Anna), Jelani Alladin (Kristoff), Greg Hildreth (Olaf), John Riddle (Hans) and Robert Creighton (Duke of Weselton), are principal cast members Kevin Del Aguila (Oaken), Timothy Hughes (Pabbie), Andrew Pirozzi (Sven), Audrey Bennett (Young Anna), Mattea Conforti (Young Anna), Brooklyn Nelson (Young Elsa), Ayla Schwartz (Young Elsa), Alyssa Fox (Elsa Standby) and Aisha Jackson (Anna Standby).
Frozen's director is Michael Grandage, a Tony Award® winner (Red) and director of three Olivier Award-winning Outstanding Musicals (Merrily We Roll Along, Grand Hotel and Guys and Dolls), and Rob Ashford, Tony Award winner (Thoroughly Modern Millie) and multiple Tony and Olivier Award nominee, is choreographer.
The design team for Frozen includes scenic and costume design by Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts 1 & 2, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Evita), lighting design by six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (Aladdin; Hello Dolly!; An American in Paris), sound design by four-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski (The Scottsboro Boys, Motown, After Midnight), video design by Tony winner FinnRoss (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), puppet design by Michael Curry (The Lion King,Spamalot), hair design by David BrIan Brown (War Paint, She Loves Me), makeup design by Anne Ford-Coates (On Your Feet!; On the Twentieth Century) and special effects design by Jeremy Chernick (Aladdin,Harry Potter and the Cursed Child).
Two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Oremus (Avenue Q, Wicked, The Book of Mormon) is music supervisor and creates vocal, incidental and dance arrangements. He is joined on the music team by Dave Metzger (orchestrations), Chris Montan(music consultant) and Brian Usifer (music director).