“Frozen” Stage Musical Adaptation Confirmed in Development

The Next Logical Step

frozenDisney’s 2013 hit animated film Frozen will one day become a Broadway musical.  Though no timeline has been announced, the producer of the film has confirmed that they are in early development talks to adapt the make the stage musical, produced by Disney’s theatrical unit under the leadership of Thomas Schumacher.  This is the next logical step for the film, which won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature as well as Best Original Song for the tune “Let It Go.”  With songs written by Broadway favorite Bobby Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) in collaboration with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the show should be easily convertible into a stage musical format, with such experienced Broadway personnel on its team.

In Early Stages, but Marketing Has Already Begun

The film was written by Jennifer Lee (screenwriter for Wreck-it-Ralph) and co-directed by Lee and Chris Buck (Tarzan).  The film’s producer Peter Del Vecho revealed definite plans for the stage musical in an interview with TVGuide.com.  Shortly before the Academy Awards, Kristen Anderson-Lopez also hinted that a stage musical was in very early talks, but now it has been confirmed by the producer.  The team has made it clear that they are not rushing the process; rather, they are taking their time to make sure the result is as excellent as possible.  In the meantime, Disney is taking the opportunity to promote the future show and gather email addresses, by means of having set up a microsite: www.frozenthemusical.com.  Because of the serious franchise potential of Frozen, the film is only the first step.  The musical will follow, and perhaps more types of media will appear in the future as well.

Idina Menzel and Further Cast Members

The Academy Award winning song “Let It Go” was sung by Broadway favorite Idina Menzel, who played the role of Elsa, the ice queen Idina Menzel Oscar Awards 2014older sister who is forced to flee when she is unable to control her powers.  Menzel performed the song at the Academy Awards, and John Travolta became notorious for flubbing her name upon introducing her; he called her Adele Dazzem.  Fortunately, this only spurred more social media attention for the project.  Menzel is famous for having premiered the lead role of Elphaba in Wicked as well as Maureen in Rent.  As such, she has a huge musical theater fanbase who will surely be delighted to see the stage show of Frozen.  Time will tell, however, whether Menzel will be cast in the same role onstage, as perhaps she is not the right age for the character in person, though her voice was.  Presently, she can be seen onstage in the new musical If/Then.  Other actors who appeared in the film who may be considered for roles in the stage musical include Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Santino Fontana, all of whom have been seen on Broadway before.

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 Stars at the 2014 Oscars

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

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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.

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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.