Disney’s Frozen: The Broadway Musical has been adding an extra dose of magic on Broadway since it started previews in March. Due to the overwhelming success of the film, the show has more built-in fans that have yet to see it than perhaps any other new show in Broadway history. Walt Disney Records gave us a taste of what we could expect with four pre-release singles, but now the wait is over with the release of the Original Broadway Cast Recording.
Before I get too deep into this review, I’ve sort-of seen the show. By that, I mean I traveled to Denver last year to see it during its three-month pre-Broadway engagement, during which changes were being made and songs were even being replaced or cut. Going off my memory, there are at least a few songs that have been replaced or omitted, but all of the new standouts are here. In addition to the twenty-one tracks from the show, there is also a bonus track at the end of a song that was cut called “When Everything Falls Apart,” which was already out of the show when I saw it (it’s an Olaf song).
Perhaps the most changed song is the opening, “Vuelie/Let the Sun Shine On,” which starts the show with familiar territory, including a new verse of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” before the ensemble narrates how the sisters were friends before Anna’s accident. When I saw it in Denver, the song was performed instead by Grand Pabbie and was called “Anna and Elsa,” although it feels like some of the melody was repurposed here.
The four pre-release singles are all here (“Monster,” “What Do You Know About Love,” “Dangerous to Dream,” and “True Love”), but in the context of the show they play better and take on new meaning. One of the songs that stuck with me that wasn’t pre-released was “Hans of the Southern Isles,” which repeats several times and builds and grows with each reprise. This and “What Do You Know About Love” are my two favorite songs added to the show. Another seemingly new song (“Kristoff Lullaby”) repeats some of the melody and lyrics of “What Do You Know About Love.”
One song that is fun in the show but feels out of place in the auditory experience is “Hygge,” the opening of Act II that calls you back to your seats from your potty break/drink refill. It’s performed by Oaken (Yoo hoo!) and his family (Hello, family!) and is hilarious with the visuals. But on the record, it becomes a drastic tonal change that feels more like “Positoovity” from the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid, which was a song for Scuttle at the top of Act II performed by a chorus of tap-dancing seagulls in flippers (why did that show close?).
Most of the songs from the film are all here, tweaked and adapted for the stage. “Love is an Open Door” features a gorgeous instrumental break, as does “Fixer Upper,” which becomes much more percussive and tribal, with chanting from the chorus at the top of the track. “Reindeers are Better than People” is exactly the same, but Jelani Alladin adds his own vocal flourishes to make it a little more theatrical. The only song from the film omitted is “Frozen Heart,” although the melody and lyrics are part of a new song called “Colder by the Minute,” which also repeats other melodies form the show sung by the ensemble to help narrate the climax.
“Let It Go” has been moved to the end of Act I as a finishing move and Caissie Levy’s powerful voice is incredible. It doesn’t quite top Idina Menzel’s version, but she ends it on an even higher note and makes it her own. Many of the songs feature interesting reprises and tweaks to songs from the film, including more variations on “Let it Go” and the Demi Lovato lyrics added to the reprise of “For the First Time in Forever” (“Standing frozen in this life I’ve chosen…”)
I have technically seen three different theatrical takes on Frozen, four if you count Disney On Ice. One thing that both the Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line adaptations had in common was repurposing “Love is an Open Door” as a finale, tweaking the lyrics and repeating the line “Say goodbye to the pain of the past, we don’t have to feel it anymore” sung by Anna and Elsa as a ballad now that their sisterhood is repaired and stronger than ever. I loved that theme coming full circle and was sad to see it not carried to this version. I was hoping they would add it during the time between Denver and New York City, but sadly it’s still absent. Instead the finale is *shock face* more “Let it Go.” But it gives goose chills none the less and gets you out of your seat for the curtain call because it leaves you so full of raw emotions that have nowhere else to go but into your claps, cheers, and tears.
Listening to the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Frozen: The Broadway Musical made me even more excited to see the final product on Broadway. Musical theater and Frozen fans alike are going to obsess over these new songs by the Lopi (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez) and will stalk the internet for more cast recordings/solo albums from Caissie Levy (Elsa), Patti Murin (Anna), Jelani Alladin (Kristoff), and John Riddle (Hans) because their talent commands your obsession.
“From magical movies to unforgettable adventures, from to the thrill of the theater to the comfort of your home, you can always count on something new and exciting from Disney.” – That intro from every Disney VHS in the mid-90’s.