Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Frozen" Is Heading To Broadway (Fingers Crossed for Rewrites!) But We Already Knew That, So Let's Check Out Other Theatrical Snow Queen Productions (Pt 1)

Idina Menzel (voice of Elsa and Disney's current reigning queen) photographed for GO magazine
It wasn't really a question of "if"but "when". I wasn't the only one to feel that Frozen was "front loaded" with songs - meaning that they had a musical in mind from the beginning and had to write the movie to accommodate the songs. By the looks of it the only thing they were waiting for was to make sure Frozen was making the money-makers happy enough, the fans passionate enough and an Award Winner (first a Golden Globe, next an-almost-guaranteed Academy Award) to throw a ton more green into, what is no doubt going to be, an insanely expensive theatrical production.
The official news:
One day after Frozen won the Golden Globe, Disney CEO Bob Iger has confirmed to Fortune that the studio is in talks to turn the animated hit into a Broadway musical. No date has been confirmed for when the stage version will debut. “We’re not demanding speed,” Iger said. “We’re demanding excellence.”
Yes - don't rush - you have a big job there.. and please revisit some of the story issues while you're there please? Kthxbai.

So the main questions regarding Frozen-the-Musical (ugh - that sounds hokey) are:
1) Will they bow to pressure from almost every source and write more of Elsa, the Snow Queen's story (and thus make it reflect more of the spirit of the original fairy tale - though more of the plot is pretty much a solid "ain'tgonnahappen") or will they just add more songs? 
2) How on earth are they planning to design, pull of a production that can run every night of the week (and sometimes more) that won't let the Frozen fans down in terms of the magical ice and snow stuff (because, let's face it, THIS is what people are going to come to see: Let It Go and the ice castle construction). 
3) They will rewrite for the stage, it's unavoidable - but what will the emphasis be? Will they fix some of those glaring holes the movie has? 
At least the Fixer Upper song will be more at home, as will Love Is An Open Door. They are two examples of just-fine-but-completely-unnecessary-for-the-main-story songs that Broadway is good at using, for getting those tricky backstage mechanical set-ups in place and working in time and for lengthy/complicated costume changes - something fun that the audience doesn't mind get sidetracked with a little because in the back of your mind you're aware that in a very physical sense, they need time to get the next piece of awesome ready (something you DON'T need in a movie by the way because.. it's a movie. :/ )
Apart from ridiculously high expectations on the ice and snow theatrical effects, another main headache for the production will be finding Idina sound-alikes. It doesn't matter if you have a "good voice" - no professional versions of Let It Go (all of which have amazing vocal talents) have come close to Idina Menzel's rendition. She's the one who put a ton of life into Elsa with her performance (quite possibly a lot more than Disney was prepared for, since they stuck with the "Anna is the main character/it's her story" party line) and, especially within the story, the actor-singer playing Elsa who can't carry that song as a true storyteller, is in danger of flattening the entire show. (Of course, if they adjust the writing to include more Elsa this will be less important.. just sayin'.)
Will it be more like HCA's Snow Queen? No. But I know whatever they design and however they create the technical effects of snow, ice and snowmen, it will be both cutting edge and informative for all those people who want to bring a new version of Snow Queen to the stage.

(And, honestly, it would be a fantastic project to work on! I wish those employed to do so, the very best.)

While this news tends to send Frozen fandoms into ecstatic comas of joy (or worry, since Idina probably won't be involved), I thought it would be fun and inspiring to have a look at a few recent and very different Snow Queen productions that most definitely ARE fairy tales after Andersen's story (and I'm going to stick with theater and not even delve into ballet & dance because that's a whole other set of posts for another time!).

I'm going to start the round-up after the jump and then continue in upcoming posts (otherwise this would be as long as a football field with all the lovely pics! :)
✒ ✒ Click the "Read more" link below for the first highlight in the Theatrical Snow Queen Round-up ✒ ✒
First up: San Jose Repertory Theater's musical The Snow Queen.

Look at the purty poster by Ignition Designs! I love it.
This production of Snow Queen ran during December 2013 until just before Christmas. (It's actually one of the stories on my list I wasn't able to blog due to the unexpected break during December.) I like the minimal approach, re-using the levels and stage areas without too much additional set. The way it's staged, it still makes it clear which scene is which.
This world premiere adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s coming-of-age fairy tale asks, "what does it mean to lose one’s innocence?"
Despite how simple this looks the story is clear, beautiful and feels magical yet human. I really like how well all the elements were handled in this - balanced together in order to make a more beautiful whole, rather than going to town on (for example) a Snow Queen costume that doesn't quite live in the same world as the rest of the story.

At time of writing I have FIVE more posts coming - and already scheduled to post - highlighting recent, but different, Snow Queen productions. So keep checking back.


  1. OOO~ Awesome news. When I was watching the movie, I was thinking how great the movie would look on stage. The way the sing and move is perfect. Especially love is an open door. Can you just imagine? Exciting!

  2. That promo photo is not her. Compare it with real photos of her from Oscar night.

    1. Actually it IS her. I saw the behind-the-scenes of the shoot. The reason there's such a difference is called Photoshop (sadly, but there you go).