The Masterminds Behind "Frozen" Share Most Heartwarming "Let It Go" Story to Date

News   The Masterminds Behind "Frozen" Share Most Heartwarming "Let It Go" Story to Date
 
Academy Award-winning husband-and-wife songwriting duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez attended the Junior Theater Festival this weekend in Atlanta, GA, where they were greeted with one of the best "gifts" to date.

Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

"Oh my God, I have to tell you," Anderson-Lopez excitedly told Playbilll.com at the festival. "This woman came up, and we were surrounded by people who were supposed to keep [others] away, but she was like, 'I have to tell you. I have to tell you… I work with a little girl who is brain injured. She's non-verbal [because] she was dropped from a stairwell at four months old.' She said, 'I'm a physical therapist. I work with her. The only thing that calms her down is 'Let It Go.' She doesn't speak, but she can hum every note of 'Let It Go.'

"That kind of thing… First of all, I'm really glad that she fought through the people to tell me that story, but second of all, when you hear something like that, you just go, 'Thank you, God, for giving me this song that just keeps on giving me these gifts.' The song has been a ride, and I'm so glad that it can heal like that."

Lopez and Anderson-Lopez were surrounded by over 4,000 youngsters at the Junior Theater Festival, where children from around the world travel to Atlanta, GA, to perform material (from "Jr." and "Kids" versions of musicals) they've worked on throughout the year. The Oscar-winning writers were among this year's adjudicators, who provided the students with feedback and encouragement.

She added, "It's kind of incredible to watch each community — each group of kids — building not only [upon] the shows that they do, and not only their skills, but this incredible sense of teamwork and community."

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And, of course, when theatre kids are amongst their theatregoing peers, "Let It Go" is heard throughout the hallways, on the stage, in the bathrooms and around every corner. "We couldn't have ever, ever imagined that it would do this," said Anderson-Lopez. "Ever! I was just saying to Benj [Pasek] and Justin [Paul, when they asked], 'Isn't it amazing that all these kids know your lyrics?' … You get the moment where the parents start coming up to you and say, 'I hate that song! I'm so sick of it!'"

Her husband interjected with, "But that's a big compliment if you think of it in the right way. It's been played so much, and it's in everybody's head. You know, you get sick of anything if you hear it enough, so it's nice that it's had that exposure, but it seems to be part of the culture now. It's always nice to hear a group of kids singing it."

When asked about the formula or method behind a megahit such as "Frozen," Lopez said, "There's no formula. It's all about storytelling. It's all about creating a character that an audience will get behind. It's all about leading that character through a journey that people can go with that character on and support them through…"

Anderson-Lopez added, "I think, though, what Book of Mormon certainly had and [what] we worked really hard [on with 'Frozen'] is having something to say… Basically, 'Frozen' is about the triumph of love over fear and making sure that we were all on board — we all really felt engaged with talking about that story, talking about how fear and shame can just cripple you and cripple a family and break everything — and that choosing love over fear is what we wanted to say. Everything we do, we say, 'What is this going to give to the world? What do we have to say?'"

After a weekend at the festival (not to mention awards and box-office gold), it's safe to say that "Frozen" hits close to home for all.

Read about how Darren Criss surprised the children at JTF, and look out check out Playbill on Twitter and Instagram for clips, performances and footage from #JTF15. 

(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

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