Friday, January 17, 2014

For the First Time in Forever... Frozen's Coming to the Stage!

As I'm sure you're all well aware, this past Monday (January 13th), Disney chairman announced the company's plans to bring the smash hit (and brand-spankin'-new Golden Globe winner) Frozen to the stage, and the Internet rejoiced! I don't think I've seen such an enthusiastic response since... well, since the release of the movie!

It's no secret that Disney has a reputation for unparalleled theatrical productions; from the wonderfully charming shows in their parks  to Tony-Award winners like The Lion King and Newsies, the company turns out nothing less than top-of-the-line work. And since the news broke, the Disney community has been abuzz with wild speculations over everything from casting to sets, and wen can expect to see it (which, sadly, is probably quite a ways into the future). All this  chatter got me thinking about what I'd like to see in an eventual Broadway mounting of America's new favorite film!


1) The Overture


I am a self-proclaimed musical theatre nerd, which is painfully apparent in my proclivity to become a blubbering mess when the opening strains of an overture drift over the audience, signifying that something incredible is about to happen. The grand orchestral medleys in the moment just before the curtain rises is so special to me, and Frozen's is guaranteed to be absolutely gorgeous. Imagine the seamless melding of the movie's best-loved tunes into a mellifluous medley; "Frozen Heart" flows effortlessly into "Let it Go", which bounces on to "Fixer Upper", and brushes every fleeting theme along the way.

The Frozen overture that lives in my dreams is quite similar to that of the The Little Mermaid's, which came to the Broadway stage in the fall of 2007.  While the show enjoyed only moderate success by Disney's standard (it closed after only a year and a half of performances), it will forever hold a special place in my heart for its innovation, ambition, and eclectic and deeply moving score. This overture captures so perfectly the wonder and enchantment that pervades this most beloved story- qualities that are also exemplified in the brilliant score of Robert and Kristin Anderson-Lopez. Get a taste by listening to the overture below!

via YouTube


2) "Frozen Heart"

Despite the bubbly show-stoppers and punching power-ballads that abound in the film (and believe me, I cannot wait to see me some rock-trolls prancing about the stage in choreographed glory), the song that first captured my heart (no pun intended!) was the humble opening song of the ice harvesters. Not only did the work song set the tone for the story to come and deliver some very eerie foreshadowing, it hearkened back to older Disney pieces like The Little Mermaid, as it possesses an intrinsic thematic feel and purpose similar to that film's "Fathoms Below". The song's driving rhythm and harsh, natural setting open up possibilities for what could be an iconic and chilling (I swear I'm not doing this intentionally) opening tableau. Just picture it: a starkly lit stage populated with a tired chorus, going through the motions and warning the audience of the dangers that lie ahead. I've got chills just thinking about it!

(Fun Fact: Composers Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez drew upon "Fathoms Below" and Dumbo's "Song of the Roustabouts" for inspiration while writing "Frozen Heart"! Read more about it here!)

3) Furry (and Frosty) Friends!

Let's be real, you guys: Olaf was the best thing to ever happen in Frozen. From his hysterical string of one-liners to his surprising wisdom in the realm of romance, the quirky little snowman plays an integral role in the film not only as comedic relief, but also by providing tangible evidence of the bond that exists between Anna and Elsa. Olaf already carries a musical theatre-y sensibility (thanks to Tony-nominated voice actor Josh Gad), so it's only natural to sit back and imagine what it'll be like when he and his snow-buddies soft-shoe their way through "In Summer".

via Tumblr

Of course, I couldn't leave Kristoff's beloved reindeer sidekick behind (they are  better than people, you know!), if not out of sheer curiosity. Disney's history of anthropomorphizing animals (and housewares... I'm looking at you, Beauty and the Beast) is certainly extensive, so I'm very interested to see how Sven will be handled in a stage adaptation. Will he be a wise-cracking be-antelered fellow in a reindeer suit, or will he continue to be voiced by his human companion (perhaps as some sort of puppet)? Much of that will rest on the stylistic approach taken by the creative team, but I can't wait to see how they tackle it!

4) Even MORE great songs!





One need only glance at the track list for Frozen's Deluxe Soundtrack to see that Disney's aural arsenal is locked, loaded, and ready to dispense extra tunes at the drop of a hat, and the longer running time for a musical production gives ample reason to do just that!  So which ones will make the cut? Personally, I would love to see the younger Anna and Elsa make mischief through "We Know Better", the first deleted track on the extended edition. How fun would it be to see the sisters' relationship in their younger days?

via YouTube
(The melody of "One Step Closer" comes from the scene on Prince Eric's ship... you know, before it's burned to a crisp!)

Another trick often used by Disney's composers is to beef up the stage show's repertoire by expanding upon and writing lyrics to instrumental themes. This method has been employed to great effect in adaptations of both The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, and I only hope that Frozen will receive a similar treatment! Two such score pieces that I'd love to hear made into full-fledged numbers are the unused "Hans" and "Oaken's Sauna" tracks, also from the Deluxe edition. Both songs have possess great character and could definitely add a special something to the story!

Other things I'd love to hear from an extended Frozen score: A Kristoff/Anna duet (naturally) and a malicious, sinister reprise of "Love is an Open Door".

5) The "Let it Go" Sequence


 
via Tumblr

While it's hard to imagine a more spectacular sight than watching Queen Elsa create her crystalline masterpiece on the big screen, the prospect of seeing the Oscar-nominated anthem onstage is almost too wonderful to imagine. I can already see the spires of a massive, glassy ice palace shooting up from the stage in a display of technological wonder and sheer Disney magic. The creative team has a tall order to fill, but it'll certainly be a sight to behold!

What do you want to see on stage in Frozen? Add your suggestions in the comments below!

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