Broadway’s Frozen Getting Creative Revamp With New Director and Choreographer

News   Broadway’s Frozen Getting Creative Revamp With New Director and Choreographer
 
The Broadway musical based on the hit Disney animated film will receive a developmental lab in New York City this fall prior to a summer 2017 Denver world premiere.
Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The stage adaptation of Disney’s animated film musical Frozen will receive a month-long developmental lab in New York City this fall ahead of an announced pre-Broadway world premiere at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in August 2017. Frozen is scheduled to arrive on Broadway in spring 2018.

According to an Equity casting notice, the upcoming developmental lab will take place October 24 through November 18 in New York City.

In a surprising move announced August 4, Disney stated that it had parted was with the show’s director, Alex Timbers, the imaginative and in-demand director of Here Lies Love, Peter and the Starcatcher and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

As recently as August 3, Disney Theatrical Productions had released a casting notice for an upcoming fall developmental lab of Frozen that still named Timbers as the show’s director.

Disney is currently seeking a new director to lead Frozen to Broadway.

“Making the tough calls when creating a new Broadway musical is never easy, but this was especially painful,” Thomas Schumacher, President of Disney Theatrical Productions, said in a statement. “Alex Timbers is one of the most exciting and innovative theatre directors I know, and we’ve proudly worked with him from my support of the early development of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson through our work together on Peter and the Starcatcher. Though we have chosen to go in another direction with this role, we are committed to seeing Frozen’s tremendous theatrical potential brought to life onstage.”

Timbers did not offer a comment in the release announcing his departure.

He previously worked with Disney Theatrical on the Tony-winning play with music Peter and the Starcatcher, and was quietly workshopping a stage production based on The Muppets at Disney for several years. Timbers most recently collaborated with Frozen songwriters Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez on their original musical Up Here, which premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse last summer.

Another major addition to Frozen’s creative lineup is Christopher Gattelli, the Tony-winning choreographer of Disney’s Newsies. Gattelli replaces Tony-winning Billy Elliot choreographer Peter Darling, who was originally announced as part of the creative team in February. An official announcement was not made, but Gattelli is credited as the choreographer for the fall lab. It was reported that Darling had also parted ways with the production in June to work on another Disney project. Gattelli had been rumored as his successor.

The fall lab will bring together a fresh creative team who will join Oscar-winning “Let It Go” songwriters Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit), along with original film screenwriter Jennifer Lee.

The lab will provide the creators roughly four weeks of rehearsals with a full cast, in order to test the screen-to-stage adaptation, which includes nearly a dozen new songs.

“To most songwriters that haven’t done it before, you would even think, ‘What’s really to be done?’ You know? It’s a musical movie and you put the musical movie onstage. There’s a lot more to it than that,” Robert Lopez told Playbill.com in a recent interview.

READ: THE CHALLENGES IN ADAPTING FROZEN FOR THE BROADWAY STAGE

“So we realized, ‘Oh my Gosh, we’re not writing five [new] songs. We’re gonna be writing ten or 12. Not only that, the elements of the movie that are really kind of not theatrical, like close-ups and action sequences, all of that needs to be done through musical storytelling. That’s that area where you really have to be creative, in terms of some restructuring and some rethinking and just, hopefully, smart choices.”

Disney held a private reading of Frozen last spring that featured Betsy Wolfe as the ice-loving princess Elsa; Patti Murin as Anna, the devoted sister; and Okieriete Onaodowan as Kristoff.

No official casting has been announced.

Read more about Frozen’s Broadway plans and the designers who will bring it to life on stage.

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