Disney Confirms “Frozen” Stage Musical in Development

Bobby Lopez Returns to Broadway with a Screen Success

Bobby Lopez, the co-songwriter of the 2013 smash hit Disney film Frozen, is no stranger to Broadway.  He made a name for himself when he co-wrote the raunchy puppet musical Avenue Q, which won the 2004 Tony Awards for Best Musical as well as Best Original Score.  In an even more stupendous success, he followed that show by co-writing The Book of Mormon along with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.  The Book of Mormon, which also won the Tony Awards for Best Musical as well as Best Original Score, has been playing a sold-out run at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre since March 2011, and it remains an extremely tough ticket to this day.  Unlike many Broadway composers, however, Lopez did not keep his sights set on the stage only.  After a few other ventures into screen composing, Bobby, along with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, scored the gig to write songs for the 2003 Disney film Frozen.  In addition to winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Frozen was also awarded the honor of Best Original Song, written by the Lopez duo, which was “Let It Go” sung by Broadway favorite Idina Menzel.

“Frozen” Stage Musical in Early Stages of Development

frozen movie posterIn January of this year, it was announced that Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are in the early stages of adapting Frozen to become a stage musical.  Disney has had many stage hits in the recent past, including The Lion King, Mary Poppins, and the newly running Aladdin.  The film Frozen includes eight original songs by the husband and wife team, and presumably they would write additional tunes for the stage score, which would rely more heavily on music in place of animation.  Time will tell whether Idina Menzel, a Broadway star who has performed in such shows as Rent and Wicked, will reprise her role as Elsa, the 21 year-old snow queen who inadvertently turns her kingdom into ice.  If this were to happen, the storyline would need to be slightly adjusted for Idina, who is presently 43 years old.  At this time, she is starring in a new musical called If / Then, where she plays a 40 year-old woman who moves back to New York City in search of a new start after a divorce.  The other lead role in the film, Princess Anna, was played by Kristen Bell, the beloved screen star known for her role on the television series Veronica Mars.  Bell has only been on Broadway twice; the last time was The Crucible in 2002.  Therefore, it will be fascinating to see if she reprises her screen role on the stage as well.

But First, “Up Here”

Though Frozen is still in its early stages of becoming a stage show, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are keeping busy.bobby lopez kristen anderson lopez  They have written the score to another new musical called Up Here, the storyline of which follows a millennial protagonist named Dan who reckons with his subconscious mind while seeking a romantic relationship.  That show will premiere at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse in the 2015 – 2016 season directed by Alex Timbers, a young director who has made a name for himself with such hit shows as Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher, Rocky, and Here Lies Love.  Up Here is a more alternative story, and therefore its potential to transfer to Broadway is questionable.  This tryout run will serve to show Broadway producers if such a niche story could have a wide enough appeal to survive in this competitive marketplace.  In any case, the Lopez duo and Timbers both have plenty of connections to keep on making mainstream potential hits such as Frozen, while also experimenting with more alternative fare.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 3/16/2014

This weeks notable movements on Broadway are:

MILLIONAIRES CLUB
With total Broadway ticket sales revenue up to $24.4 million from last weeks $21.2 million, this week sees that seven Broadway shows are now in the millionaires club. This includes Kinky Boots, Les Miserables, Matilda, Motown, Book Of Mormon, Lion King and Wicked. Les Miserables shines as the seventh top grossing show overall and it has only just opened in previews.

THE WICKEDLY TALENTED INDINA MENZEL IN IF/THEN
If/Then begins its run in previews with strong sales.  With almost a million ($) dollars in gross Broadway ticket sales, If/Then has made it to the top ten in our Broadway Show Ticket Analysis Chart (see below). The ‘wickedly talented’ Idina Menzel (not Adele Dazeem) seems to be the drive of this new Broadway show which is directly reflected from the average ticket price of $105.65 and a 98.55% capacity.

AFTER MIDNIGHT
With a rotating list of celebrity singers as the big draw for this show, the critically acclaimed After Midnight suffered greatly last week by being stuck in the no-mans-land between the end of KD Lang and start of Toni Braxton stints on the show. It’s unclear who actually sang in that role last week, but the numbers show that how the lack of celebrity draw can impact the sales numbers massively. The average paid admission sale crashed from $96.44 to $68.39, demonstrating that the celeb headliner can make a huge difference in sales. Ironically, the capacity for After Midnight remained the same indicating that the show discounted heavily and may have papered the theatre to get the audience in. It will be interesting to see how the show recovers this week when Toni Braxton makes her debut and whether or not the gap-drop in sales can mess with overall shows ticket sales momentum or if its just a passing phase. The show plans to rotate in Toni Braxton, KD Lang, Fantasia Barrino, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Dule Hill and Adriane Lenox. All of which will provide some fascinating takes on sales data as it may just end up being a popularity contest with all things equal.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending March 16, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis 03-16-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $432,707 5,557 76.58% $77.87
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $981,488 7,322 100.00% $134.05
AFTER MIDNIGHT $381,020 5,571 67.22% $68.39
ALADDIN $893,595 12,035 99.96% $74.25
ALL THE WAY $887,748 9,118 80.15% $97.36
BEAUTIFUL $891,835 7,658 93.30% $116.46
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $655,710 9,050 92.54% $72.45
CHICAGO $523,155 6,756 78.19% $77.44
CINDERELLA $910,028 11,127 79.43% $81.79
IF/THEN $929,267 8,796 98.55% $105.65
JERSEY BOYS $684,421 7,200 73.29% $95.06
KINKY BOOTS $1,330,377 10,267 90.12% $129.58
LES MISÉRABLES $1,043,262 9,397 95.41% $111.02
MAMMA MIA! $538,966 6,500 69.68% $82.92
MATILDA $1,105,243 11,451 99.96% $96.52
MOTHERS AND SONS $222,265 4,278 66.68% $51.96
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,084,613 10,745 89.13% $100.94
NEWSIES $792,166 9,114 96.14% $86.92
NO MAN’S LAND/WAITING FOR GODOT $589,820 7,030 81.90% $83.90
ONCE $556,921 6,297 74.33% $88.44
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR $423,934 5,079 97.67% $83.47
PIPPIN $699,835 7,087 89.48% $98.75
ROCK OF AGES $353,712 4,310 92.41% $82.07
ROCKY $639,757 10,182 83.08% $62.83
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,659,020 8,752 102.63% $189.56
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $476,374 6,418 78.73% $74.22
THE LION KING $1,733,679 13,598 99.99% $127.50
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $929,682 11,214 87.34% $82.90
THE REALISTIC JONESES $253,222 2,841 81.45% $89.13
WICKED $1,861,649 14,686 97.49% $126.76
Totals: $24,465,468 249,436 87.09% $95.00

If/Then Begins Previews, With Idina Menzel, But Not With Adele Dazeem

Idina Menzel in if/then on BroadwayIdina Menzel has returned to the Broadway stage for the first time in almost 10 years.  If/Then, a new musical by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning team behind Next to Normal) began previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.  The musical is directed by Michael Greif, who first cast Idina in the role that became her big break – Maureen in Rent – and it is produced by David Stone, who mounted the production that earned her a 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical – for playing Elphaba in Wicked.  In If/Then, she plays a woman named Elizabeth on the verge of turning 40 who, after a divorce, decides to move to New York City to make a fresh start.  The official opening will be on Sunday, March 30, 2014.

If/Then is the only new musical this spring season that is not based on pre-existing source material.  With the marketplace competition dominated by recognizable titles such as Rocky, Aladdin, Bullets Over Broadway, and The Bridges of Madison County, If/Then might have a tough time standing out.

However, national awareness of this show and its star was unintentionally heightened during this past Sunday’s Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, broadcast, when John Travolta infamously mispronounced Idina Menzel’s name while introducing her performance of the song Let It Go from the Disney animated film Frozen.  Without displaying any sign of recognizing his error, Travolta presented her as “Adele Dazeem.”  Social media has been in an uproar about this flub ever since, and people who had never even heard of Idina Menzel now know that her name is, in fact, Idina Menzel.

Apparently, the producers of If/Then realized the benefits of this tangential publicity, as the show’s official twitter account referred to the Oscars incident by tweeting “You Know Her Name.  Idina Menzel stars in If/Then on Broadway March 5th.”  Furthermore, a less official statement, but one that is still traceable to the production team, made its way across the cybersphere.  In what appeared to be an insert from the Playbill for If/Then, a picture of Idina from the Oscars was accompanied by the text: “At this performance the role of “Elizabeth” will be played by “Adele Dazeem.””  A joke bio then followed which cited her as having played “Moritz” in Nert, followed by “Ephraima” in Wicked-ly, and referred her voice performance in the Disney animated musical Farfignugen.  (Clearly this was a play on “Maureen” in Rent, “Elphaba” in Wicked, and Frozen.)  Though the note has been confirmed not to have truly been inserted into Playbills in the theatre, it fooled many people who thought it was real.  Among others, the image was tweeted by Janet Krupin, an actress in If/Then.  As those inside the theatre’s doors were spreading the prank, it is possible that the producers were the ones behind it, taking advantage of the added exposure from Travolta’s blunder.

taye diggs and idina menzel

In any case, Idina Menzel already has a huge fan base from her vast success in her career thus far, and hopefully the show’s merits will allow it to shine at the box office.  The musical had a pre-Broadway engagement at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. from November 5, 2013 to December 8, 2013, the reviews for which were not wildly positive.  Though critics praised Idina’s performance as well as the score, the storyline was reportedly muddled.  The musical features a “Sliding Doors” – style plot with two “what-if” scenarios played out side-by-side, as Elizabeth becomes both the characters “Liz” and “Beth.”  Audiences found this a bit difficult to follow.  Still, fixing kinks is what out-of-town tryouts are for, and hopefully the creative team has had time to refine the plot structure in the intervening months.

The story is actually not far from Idina’s own experience.  She recently separated from her husband of 10 years and Rent co-star Taye Diggs, and at age 42, she is struggling to be a mother to her four year-old son while revitalizing her Broadway career.  After attempting to develop herself as a singer-songwriter in Los Angeles in the years since Wicked, she is now ready to take on this role which is surprisingly close to her heart.  A naturally raw and vulnerable performer, audiences can expect that her character will pulsate with the truth of her own experience, not to mention the gravity-defying power of her sensational singing voice – no matter what her name is: Idina, Adele, Elizabeth, Liz, or Beth.

Broadway Stars at the 2014 Oscars

Last night, the 86th Annual Academy Awards crossed paths with Broadway in a number of ways.

neil_meron_craig_zadan_osca

For the second year in a row, the event was produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron – who, in addition to having produced the recent Broadway revivals of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Promises, Promises, have perfected the Broadway musical to film adaptation concept with such movie hits as Annie (1999), Chicago (2002), The Music Man (2003), and Hairspray (2007).  They also executive produced NBC’s Broadway-themed TV show Smash.  It does make sense that these producers, with their expertise in the cross-section between theatre and film, would be chosen to run the film industry’s most significant stage show.

Last year, they may have taken the concept a little too far, as they made the unprecedented choice to give the 2013 Oscars a theme: music in film.   Though it was arguably appropriate because one of the nominees was Les Misérables, some critics thought they took the idea too far.  This year, they opted for a traditionally theme-less ceremony, and received far less criticism.  Still, purely on their own merits, some of Broadway’s favorite stars made appearances at the 86th Annual Academy Awards.

bobby-lopez2

Robert “Bobby” Lopez, who made his big break by co-writing the raunchy puppet musical Avenue Q, and furthered his renown by co-writing The Book of Mormon along with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, made history last night.  At age 39, he became the youngest person ever to receive the honor known as EGOT – which refers to someone who has earned all four of “Emmy,” “Grammy,” “Oscar,” and “Tony” Awards.  Only twelve people have earned this honor throughout all of history, and he is the only person to have won all four within a decade.  At last night’s event, Bobby won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for having co-written Let It Go from Disney’s film Frozen, which in turn won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.  He wrote the song along with his wife, Kristin Anderson Lopez.

The couple’s two young daughters, Kate and Annie, both had voice parts in Frozen.

Idina-Menzel-oscars-2014-2As is tradition at the Oscars, all the nominees for Best Original Song are performed at the ceremony by the artist who did so in the film.  Idina Menzel, who played Queen Elsa in Frozen, therefore had the privilege to sing the song at last night’s event – and she did so beautifully.  However John Travolta, who was chosen to introduce her, clearly was not familiar with one of Broadway’s biggest stars.  In reading off the teleprompter, he accidentally – and yet with a straight face – called her “Adele Dazim.”  Social media went into an uproar at the ridiculous mispronunciation.  Immediately, a twitter account in that name was created. Adele Dazim’s Twitter account gained thousands of followers within a short period of time. The account is now currently suspended.

Idina Menzel, as all Broadway aficionados know, rose to prominence when she premiered the role of “Maureen” in Rent, which she also reprised in the 2005 film adaptation, and she won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance of “Elphaba” in Wicked.  This spring season, she has returned to Broadway to star in a new musical called If/Then, written by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, and directed by Michael Greif, who first cast her in RentIf/Then will begin previews March 3, 2014, and will open at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 30, 2014.  Therefore, Idina made the trip to Los Angeles just days before her big Broadway opening.

Musicals were not the only type of Broadway show to feature in last night’s Academy Awards.  In addition, two nominations were granted to August: Osage County, written by Tracy Letts based off of his Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play of the same name.  Those nominations were for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, who were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.  Jean Doumanian, the producer of such Broadway shows as August: Osage County, The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson, Death of a Salesman starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nice Work If You Can Get It starring Matthew Broderick, and The Book of Mormon, produced the movie adaptation of August: Osage County along with George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Steve Traxler, and Bob and Harvey Weinstein.  Though the film did not win any Academy Awards, it has had a profitable theatrical run, and succeeded in proving that a play can be great source material for a successful motion picture.

 

Idina Menzel To Star in If/Then on Broadway in 2014

Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel

If/Then, a new musical by the Next to Normal team of Brian Yorkey (book/lyrics) and Tom Kitt (music), is coming to Broadway early next year. The show is scheduled to start preview performances at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 4, with an opening set for March 27.

Tony Award winning actress Idina Menzel, the original Elphaba in Wicked, will star in If/Then, which will be directed by Michael Greif. Before coming to Broadway, the musical will get its world premiere in Washington D.C. at the National Theatre this coming November.

If/Then is a romantic new musical about Elizabeth, a woman who moves to New York City to get a fresh start in her life and career and discovers that the smallest decisions and occurrences have greater impact that she could have ever imagined.

Find out more about the show at www.IfThenTheMusical.com.

Idina Menzel, Matthew Morrison To Perform at the Olivier Awards

Idina Menzel

Idina Menzel

A few of Broadway’s best will share their talents in London on April 28 at the annual Olivier Awards, which honor distinguished achievement in West End professional theater. Idina Menzel (Wicked), Matthew Morrison (South Pacific, Hairspray, TV’s Glee), and Heather Headley (Aida) will be among the Broadway stars performing at the Olivier Awards ceremony.

Pop and theater star Petula Clark is also scheduled to perform, as well as the full casts of productions of Top Hat and A Chorus Line. Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Sheridan Smith will serve as the evening’s hosts.

The Olivier Awards will be held at the Royal Opera House and are set to be broadcast live on BBC Radio 2. The line-up of theater luminaries set to present awards during the ceremony include Daniel Radcliffe (recently seen on Broadway in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), Kim Cattrall, and Damian Lewis (TV’s Homeland).