Hear ye, hear ye: Disney’s Frozen has two new royals ascending to the Broadway throne. Ciara Renée and McKenzie Kurtz are new to the St. James Theatre as Elsa and Anna, respectively, but their path to Arendelle started last year, when auditions began for replacements. And both of them were certain that they would land the parts.
“Honestly, I was very excited and very confident,” Renée says with a laugh, remembering the process. “I’m a huge Disney person, I’ve watched Frozen so many times, so I was like, ‘Oh I can definitely do this—and I’m going to have so much fun with it.’”
“It was a no-brainer,” Kurtz adds of auditioning for what would become her Broadway debut. “I’m completely over the moon and feel so grateful and lucky.”
And while both have big shoes to fill, they also have the advantage of coming in together and forming their own sisterly bond—plus shepherding the new song “I Can’t Lose You,” first heard in the national tour, to the production.
Though the two don’t share much stage time, the added duet provided them with plenty of opportunities to get to know one another in rehearsals, as each performer found her own take on the character.
“I relate to her awkwardness and her positivity and her love of love,” Kurtz says of Anna. “And just her openness! I love that she has faith in herself and her sister, and I’m excited to portray her onstage. A character I’m really, really proud to play.”
And for Renée, playing Elsa carries with it a very personal meaning. “I want to be a positive and powerful representation of what a woman of color can be in this world and in every world—fictional and otherwise,” she says. “I know as a young person that would mean a whole heck of a lot to me. When you get to see yourself represented in any way, you start to expand what you think is possible for yourself. Now there’s a whole group of people who feel empowered enough to be queens in their own lives.
“It’s so great that I’m a woman of color and I’m getting to play the Queen,” she adds. “Not just a princess. The queen.”
Spoken like a born monarch.