Frozen: The Musical is the first established Broadway show that has officially been closed due to the Broadway shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
Frozen, the Disney Broadway musical, announced that it would not be returning to the St. James Theater stage after the COVID-19 pandemic Broadway shutdown has passed. The theatre will be empty until the landlord figures out what show will go in there after the pandemic passes, with the smart money calling for The Who's Tommy to be the next tenant. The official announcement was released on Thursday May 14th, 2020 from the Frozen production and came two months after all of Broadway was shut down on March 12th, 2020. The musical’s final Broadway show was performed on Wednesday March 11th, 2020 at the St. James Theatre and Frozen had performed 851 times, including 26 in-preview shows since its opening on February 22nd, 2018. The show grossed over $155 million during its two year production on Broadway and became a fan favorite that was driven by the movie of the same name, even though the critics and the TONY's hated the show.
Frozen on Broadway Important Show Dates:
Previews: February 22, 2018
Opened: March 22, 2018
Closed: March 11, 2020
Frozen Replaces Leads Just As Show Is Forced To Close Down
Frozen was the first established Broadway show to announce closing due to the Coronavirus outbreak, as the other shows that were cancelled had yet to have a formal Broadway show opening. Just a few weeks before COVID-19 had stopped all Broadway show productions, Frozen had replaced the lead actors Caissie Levy(who played Elsa), Patti Murin (who played Anna) and Joe Carroll (who played Hans) with Ciara Renée, McKenzie Kurtz and Ryan McCartan respectively. The new cast update took place on Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 and in an unfortunate twist of fate, the new actors only got to play for 24 performances before they were unable to put on any more shows, sidelining what could have become a great career move for all of them. With all Broadway actors now out of work, these three must feel the most robbed of their path to Broadway stardom. With Disney anticipating to continue the touring version of the show after the pandemic passes, these actors have a tough choice on whether or not to leave the Broadway confines that they were just getting accustomed to, and travel on the well-worn path of the nationwide tour of Frozen, that may well lead to appearing at a Disney theme park, that is clearly well beneath all of them.
Why Close Frozen and not Another Disney Show on Broadway?
Three Disney Broadway shows were playing before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City, which completely shut down Broadway. The shows were The Lion King, Aladdin and Frozen, all big Disney titles in their own right. Disney has taken a number of losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and Disney executives already had to deal with the major financial losses of shutting down both their California and Orlando theme parks, Disneyland and Disney World. In order for the company to stem the tide of loss, they must have decided that they should pull the funding from at least one of their three Broadway shows. The decision may have gone as follows:
- Frozen was performing at the St. James theatre, which has 1,710 seats, and is owned by the Jujamcyn Theater Company. The show had a weekly gross of $798,610.40 and it’s capacity was running at 80.68% with the average ticket being sold for $73.48
- Aladdin was performing at the New Amsterdam theatre, which has 1,801 seats, and is owned by Disney themselves. The show had a weekly gross of $1,002,597.40 and it’s capacity was running at 90.26% with the average ticket being sold for $80.39
- The Lion King was performing at the Minskoff theatre, which has 1,621 seats, and is owned by the Nederlander Organization. The show had a weekly gross of $1,186,505.00 and it’s capacity was running at 88.29% with the average ticket being sold for $99.05
Aladdin is the only Disney show on Broadway that does not have to pay another company rent while it is not performing during the shutdown as the company already owns its own theatre. Frozen and The Lion King both have to pay rent to 3rd party theatre landlords during this period and they were losing money at an incredible rate. The decision came down to close one of these two shows and the choice seems obvious. Does Disney close the show that has been performing on Broadway since 2018, has waxed and waned with popularity and is still attempting to find its footing, or the show that has been performing since 1997, is the backbone of family theatre on Broadway and pulls in more money and people each week? Frozen performed the worst out of the three Disney produced Broadway shows during the final weeks of its performances and that was the obvious choice. If things get worse in New York City and Disney on Broadway needs to close another Broadway show to stay afloat then expect to see them to close Aladdin and move The Lion King into the New Amsterdam theatre, something that is quite rare on Broadway, but still possible in these unpredictable times.