Frozen songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez were in attendance at the April 25 Actors Fund gala, where they spoke to Playbill exclusively about development on the upcoming stage adaptation of Disney’s hit animated film musical.
The songwriting duo, who are preparing to head into a developmental lab for the show next week, revealed that the musical is set to feature a large number of new songs. “The movie only has seven-and-a-half songs, and we’ve written about 23...As many songs that are in the movie, we've doubled it, and then there are reprises,” said Anderson-Lopez. “There’s a lot of new material – using some of the motifs that you already know from the movie – but going much deeper into all of the characters.”
Lopez added that during development, the focus will be on adapting iconic moments from the movie so that they have the same impact on the stage. “The story is still the same,” said Lopez. “We just needed to adapt the same story. We can’t really do huge, big action sequences on stage; you can’t really do close-ups on stage, so all of those moments that are so iconic from the film need to transform and become musical theatre moments onstage. That’s the focus of our work.”
“Every time Elsa has a giant close-up and you learn so much story through her eyes, it became a song,” added Anderson-Lopez.
“We have a very short time to develop this and make it what it is,” she continued. “It’s the first time we’ve ever written it at the same time that it’s being designed, so there’s a lot of talk, a lot of communication.”
The out-of-town premiere will play Denver Center's Buell Theatre in summer 2017 prior to a spring 2018 Broadway arrival. The production reunites Lopez and Anderson-Lopez with original screenwriter and co-director Jennifer Lee, who is writing the musical’s book.
It was recently reported that the role of Elsa had been cast in the musical, but a spokesperson for Disney said April 26 that no roles have yet been officially cast.
The production will be directed by Alex Timbers (Here Lies Love, Peter and the Starcatcher) and choreographed by Tony winner Peter Darling (Billy Elliot).
Frozen is being produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher. It's the latest in a series of stage adaptations of Disney animated films that has included Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.