Following the success of Frozen on the big screen, a Broadway musical adaptation began development back in 2014, a mere year after the release of the original movie. With Jennifer Lee (script writer and co-director of the movie) returning to write the book and Kristen and Robert Lopez returning to pen 13 brand new songs, the show premiered in Denver for a 2017 preview run, and officially opened on Broadway on March 22, 2018.
The original Denver and Broadway cast features Caissie Levy as Elsa, Patti Murin as Anna, Jelani Alladin as Kristoff, Greg Hildreth as Olaf, and John Riddle as Hans.
While it has a few modifications to better fit the stage, the musical closely follows the film in terms of story, but the new stage-exclusive songs help give us a better understanding of the inner struggles that our main characters go through, shedding some new light on a familiar story that audiences haven't seen before.
Not to be confused with the shorter Frozen—Live at the Hyperion stage musical at Disney California Adventure.
Note: Spoilers for the original movie are unmarked.
The stage musical provides examples of:
- Adaptational Attractiveness:
- Through Adaptational Species Change. Grand Pabbie, Bulda, and the trolls are now taller, human-like creatures called the Hidden Folk, a far cry from the short, bulky, big eared characters that they are in the film. Pabbie himself is now a muscular, long-haired man with a Badass Beard.
- The Duke of Weselton, while still older than the main characters, is younger than his animated counterpart.
- Adaptational Dye Job:
- Hans is a redhead in the movie, and a brunette in the musical.
- Oaken, also a redhead in the original, has grey hair here.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: Anna meets Kristoff and Olaf before she gets to Wandering Oaken's Trading Post & Sauna. This is a deviation from the movie, where Anna meets Kristoff at Oaken's, they fight off wolves, then encounter Olaf en route from Oaken's to Elsa's ice palace.
- Adaptational Expansion: The show focuses on Anna and Elsa's childhood a bit longer than the film, with their parents playing much more prominent roles in the prologue. The queen is given a brief backstory as having come from the Hidden Folk.
- Adaptational Heroism: Downplayed with the Duke of Weselton. Though he's still a villainous weasel with a sexist attitude, the Duke here is at least willingly to brave the treacherous mountains along with Hans to find Elsa rather than remain behind and let his henchmen do the dirty work like he does in the film. Though he isn't punished, it's at least implied he gets better once he sees Elsa really meant no harm.
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the movie, Elsa creates Olaf during "Let It Go". Here, Anna and Kristoff meet Olaf before they get to Wandering Oaken's Trading Post & Sauna, before "Let It Go" even occurs.
- Adaptational Jerkass: The Duke of Weselton is even more of a sexist than his film counterpart.
- Adaptational Personality Change:
- Adaptational Species Change: The trolls have been changed to the Hidden Folk, a tribe of ancient humanoid beings with tails.
- Adapted Out:
- Marshmallow, the wolves, and Hans's horse Sitron do not appear in the stage musical. In the case of Marshmallow, Elsa kicks Anna out of her ice palace by herself, rather than using Marshmallow to do it. For Sitron, rather than a rowboat, Anna and Hans fall into Kristoff's ice cart. And the wolves, they are replaced with a duet between Anna and Kristoff.
- Because of the plot restructuring, Kristoff's introduction as a child gets eliminated. "Frozen Heart" is replaced with "Vuelie / Let the Sun Shine On", although the melodies of "Frozen Heart" are still featured in the instrumentals of other songs, like "For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)".
- Age Lift: The Duke of Weselton, a grey-haired and balding old man in the original movie, is portrayed as a younger man here.
- Angry Mob Song: A very, very downplayed example, but the men's part in "Monster" more or less counts.Mob: End this winter. Bring back summer. Keep your guard up!
Hans: No harm comes to her!
- Arc Words: "Sun" and "storm".
- Artistic License History: Oaken mentions kroner as currency, but if Arendelle is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Norway in the 1840s (as said by the production team of the movie), its currency would have been called the speciedaler until kroner were introduced in 1875.
- Ascended Extra:
- King Agnarr and Queen Iduna have a considerable amount of stage time before their tragic deaths. They show up again in spirit with young Anna and young Elsa during the final number.
- Oaken still only has a single signature scene. But now he has the honor of opening Act II with his own song, "Hygge".
- Bulda is a bit more prominent here than in the film, showing up to aid Grand Pabbie when he's summoned to heal young Anna.
- On a meta level: as part of the February 2019 casting shakeup, Noah J. Ricketts, a member of the ensemble and understudy for Kristoff, took over the role full-time.
- Blatant Lies: Hans always tells Elsa that he won't harm her if she surrenders, even after he sentences her to death and she escapes from the dungeon.
- Book-Ends: The chorus of the opening number, "Let the Sun Shine On", is a series of variations on the melody of one line from "Let It Go": "let the storm rage on". In the finale, the cast sings a reprise of "Let It Go" with "let the sun shine on" replacing "let the storm rage on".
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: At the top of Act II, Oaken comes out to greet the audience, advertise the many wares at his shop, and explain the meaning of "hygge" (a Danish term that describes a sense of comfort and coziness).
- BSoD Song: Both Elsa and Anna get their own.
- Elsa has "Monster", where she starts questioning whether or not she's truly a monster after damning her entire kingdom to an endless winter. It gets to the point where she considers suicide as a means of breaking the curse, but in the end, she chooses to stand her ground and save Arendelle from her own destruction.
- Anna has the heartbreaking "True Love", which she sings after Hans betrays her. Realizing how disillusioned she was during her pursuit for love, she grieves about how she's going to die never knowing what true love is, in the very same room where she was shut out by her sister so many years ago.
- Description Cut: When Anna and Kristoff see Arendelle in deep snow from the mountainside, Anna brushes off Kristoff's concern, stating that her people can handle a winter like this. The very next scene is the Duke of Weselton screaming that he can't handle the winter.
- Darker and Edgier: Downplayed, as it's not that much darker than the original. However, the musical does get away with some racier jokes.
- Dramatic Irony: During their trek up the mountain, Anna claims to Kristoff, "I know danger when I see it, just like I know love when I see it!" Little does she know that her "true love", Hans, is indeed a very dangerous and unloving person.
- Duet of Differences: Anna and Kristoff have "What Do You Know About Love?", where they both argue about how true love really works. Anna believes in Love at First Sight (hence why she fell in love with Hans) while Kristoff claims that it's a much, much longer process.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Some songs were included in the Denver tryout, but cut before the transfer to Broadway. A second, openly villainous reprise of "Hans of the Southern Isles" was cut before opening on Broadway, as was Olaf's new song "When Everything Falls Apart". The finale song was also a reprise of "Love Is An Open Door", which, since "Love is an Open Door" was the closest thing to a Villain Song, was something Kristen Anderson-Lopez didn't like. At her insistence, the finale song was changed to a reprise of "Let It Go".
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Love is an Open Door" is much raunchier than in the movie, with Anna's desires for true love being sexed up. Anna runs her hands over Hanss chest, Hans grabs Annas butt, theres some panting, theres a dance break where he has her leg up by her face in a split, and then she somehow ends up on the ground beneath him and then as the song ends, he buries his face in her chest and then they proceed to make out for at LEAST 30 seconds as all the coronation-goers filter back in.
- Gender Bender: While Olaf is male, female actress Ryann Redmond is his puppeteer and voice as of the February 2019 casting changes.
- Greek Chorus: The Arendelle townspeople take on the role of narrators at the beginning ("Let the Sun Shine On") and climax ("Colder by the Minute") of the play.
- Honest John's Dealership: Oaken promises Kristoff that his usual overpriced products are free of charge... if they all die from the eternal winter. If not, then Kristoff owes 10,000 kroner to Oaken.
- "I Want" Song: "Dangerous to Dream" sets up Elsa's wish to reconnect with her sister, while expressing her fear of letting her magic go.
- Inherently Funny Words: "Hygge," which is intentionally made funny when turned into a song by the same guy who gave us "Hasa Diga Eebowai".
- Karma Houdini: Unlike in the animated film, the prejudicial Duke of Weselton does not get deported from the kingdom. After Elsa brings back summer and asks her subjects if everyone is ok, the Duke reassures her and joins her subjects in bowing to her, showing the kingdom's acceptance of their Queen.
- Large Ham:
- "Hans of the Southern Isles (reprise)" —Duke of Weselton: Yes, Weselton arises and offers up the POWER of his sword!
- "Colder by the Minute" —Townspeople: And the storm raged on, and NATURE TORE THE WORLD APART!
- "Hans of the Southern Isles (reprise)" —
- Last-Second Word Swap:
- There's this gem of a line from "When Everything Falls Apart" (which was cut sometime before the closing of the Denver production, but the line remains as a piece of dialogue).Olaf: Sometimes one arm has fallen off, and another's in the grass.
And I've one foot in my mouth, and another in my aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa... bdomen.
- Oaken does this at the beginning of "Hygge":Oaken: Here in Arendelle
The winters can be, weeeeeeeeeell...
Let's just say it's not so very good.
- There's this gem of a line from "When Everything Falls Apart" (which was cut sometime before the closing of the Denver production, but the line remains as a piece of dialogue).
- Leitmotif: The melody of "Frozen Heart" (which was Adapted Out of the stage musical) becomes a Leitmotif representing Elsa's fear of her powers, replacing the five-note Elsa theme from Christophe Beck's movie score.
- Marshmallow Hell: Anna subjects Hans to this in "Love is An Open Door" while he is lifting her.
- Mythology Gag:
- During the Denver tryout, Grand Pabbie wears a ceremonial headdress that resembles the face of his animated counterpart. A troll's face can also be found on the set as a doorknob.
- Sir Jorgen Bjorgen, Elsa's stuffed penguin toy from Olaf's Frozen Adventure, does make it into the musical as a prop in Anna's bedroom.
- No Ontological Inertia: Discussed, and a source of dramatic tension. Neither Elsa nor Hans are certain whether killing Elsa will cancel the effects of her magic, or make it last forever.
- Elsa: Father, you know what's best for me.
If I die, will they be free?
Mother, what if after I'm gone
The cold gets colder and the storm rages on?
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Hoo boy, if you thought that the Duke of Weselton was bad before, this iteration of him is a flat out sexist who's quick to tie the eternal winter to Elsa being a woman.Duke of Weselton: Everyone knows nothing good can come from magic, especially in the hands of a woman!
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Quite a few elements of the film have been reimagined to better suit the stage musical.
- In "For the First Time In Forever", the lines "Who knew we had eight thousand salad plates? ... Finally they're opening up the gates" are replaced with "And there's two nice ladies helping me get dressed ... Coronation Day is just the best!"
- While Olaf retains his animated appearance (ignore the puppeteer standing behind him 24/7), Sven has been redesigned to be a more realistic-looking reindeer.
- Rather than a precariously balanced rowboat and Sitron the horse, Anna's run-in with Hans involves them falling into Kristoff's ice cart.
- The wolf chase has been cut out entirely, and replaced with a new duet for Anna and Kristoff. The part where she keeps him from falling off the sled is changed to them keeping each other from falling off a bridge.
- Possibly due to being the most iconic song of the entire film, "Let It Go" is saved for the finale of Act I rather than happening immediately after Elsa flees the kingdom. As a result, much of Act I is centered around Anna and Kristoff searching for clues of Elsa's whereabouts, building up the suspense of her final destination and decision.
- "Let It Go"'s melody is lowered a half-step in key, so it's sung with the same key as Demi Lovato's pop cover from the end credits of the movie, for the sake of making it easier for actresses to hit the notes.
- Elsa doesn't create Marshmallow in the show. Instead, she forces Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf out of the castle herself.
- The trolls are now human (or at least humanoid) characters. Additionally, they come to the royal family rather than the royal family coming to them. Consequently, Kristoff's Minor Kidroduction is cut due to being an unnecessary detail that would interrupt the flow of the story.
- Promoted to Love Interest: In this version, Grand Pabbie and Bulda are a couple, as well as Kristoff's adoptive parents.
- Race Lift: Jelani Alladin, the first actor to play Kristoff, is African-American.
- Rebellious Princess: Young Anna has shades of this before her accident —Iduna: Elsa, no! What did we say?
Elsa: "Magic must stay secret."
Iduna: There are just some things we can't do in public.
Anna: Like run naked in the breeze!
Iduna, Elsa & Agnarr: ANNA!
- Recycled Soundtrack: In addition to most of the songs and score from the original film appearing in this adaptation, the new song "Let the Sun Shine On" incorporates young Elsa and Anna's "One two three together, clap together, snap together" chant from "We Know Better", a Cut Song from the movie's soundtrack.
- Samaritan Relationship Starter: Although "What Do You Know About Love?" starts off as a Duet of Differences, it ends with Kristoff and Anna becoming closer after they save each other from falling off a cliff.
- Self-Deprecation: Hans deprecates himself constantly during both instances of "Hans of the Southern Isles", which conceals how ambitious he really is.
- Shout-Out: When young Elsa and Anna build Olaf with their toys in "A Little Bit of You", the Pixar ball is part of his body.
- Triumphant Reprise:
- The first time Hans sings "Hans of the Southern Isles", it highlights his Adorkableness. In the reprise, he becomes a heroic figure as he recruits men to attack Elsa's castle.
- The Finale is a triumphant reprise of "Let It Go", starting as a duet by Elsa and Anna as Elsa thaws Arendelle, and concluding with the entire company joining in.
- Visible Invisibility: Olaf is handled the same way Timon is handled in The Lion King, He is depicted through a puppet with the puppeteer standing right behind him, dressed in white, visible to the audience but not to the characters.
- Villain Song: Prince Hans gets two solos in the show, "Hans of the Southern Isles" and a reprise, although they aren't particularly villainous. During the Denver production, however, Hans had a Dark Reprise that he sings when he betrays Anna, gloating about his plot, which acted as his true Villain Song. Lyrics available here.