A packed theatre with eager fans waited for hours to see them. At the D23 Frozen II event we all wanted to see scenes from the upcoming movie, but the Q&A with Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Josh Gad was the main attraction. Coming from the back of the theatre, the three stars took their place in the centre aisle of the theatre and began their interview with Tanner Zipchen of Cineplex Entertainment.
I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t think this portion of the event would last long. How much could I learn from a short Q&A? Then again, I had never been in a room with Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Josh Gad.
Bell started it off by reflecting on how the first film was intimate and about the family. The story was not focused on the romantic love, but about the familial love of the sisters. The focus of the new film carries on this storytelling tradition.
For Menzel, working on Frozen was one of the greatest gifts of life. She talked about how powerful it was to have an animated film with two female leads, and how the story was focused on family. Another benefit for Menzel was being able to come to work and not worry about putting on makeup. This brought a roar of laughter to the theatre. The scene of Elsa singing “Into the Unknown” connected with Menzel because of the power in the lyrics and the passion behind what Elsa is singing about.
One key ingredient to the musical success was working with Bobby and Kristen Lopez. The cast all agreed that with the Lopezes coming back and diving headfirst into the challenge of a new film, they all felt comfortable and not worried about how to top the first film. For Josh Gad, it was easy to not worry because of the commitment of the Lopezes. To Gad they were fearless and loved the challenge of the new film.
Gad believes that there are three of the most powerful songs in a Disney film in Frozen II, and to the actor we as an audience will have our socks blown off once we see them on the screen. Kristen Bell carried on for Gad and talked about how Jonathan Groff finally gets a song that in Bell’s words, he sleighs it. Yes, Kristen Bell made the pun intentionally.
The cast dove into the motives of the story and how the narrative of the film plays out. Menzel mentioned that we will all have the calling voice that tortures Elsa in the film, torture us long after we see the film.
The family, which includes Olaf, Sven, Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff, go off on this adventure together to find answers for Elsa. Adventure has its challenges and all three members of the cast mention that the history the characters learn about their family will challenge them. In a way Frozen II is a maturing story of the characters. They know who they are, but Frozen II will force everyone to find their place in the world, much like a child who leaves the comfort of home to start their life in the world alone.
Olaf is not forgotten in the growth. To Gad, he saw Olaf mature into the child phase of life. Olaf asks a lot of questions about everything, and Gad was particularly fond of the song Olaf sings in the film “When I Am Older.” Gad even related a personal story about his own daughter who asked him one night why things have to change. Gad’s daughter was crying because she didn’t want to grow up, she just wanted to be a kid. The childlike innocence of Olaf is something that continues to grow and change, and no doubt will help the snowman become a better character in the new film.
The first film was not expected to become a worldwide phenomenon. The cast reflected on when they realized that Frozen was such a big hit. Bell talked about seeing the film still at the theatres months after it premiered, while Gad talked about the difficulty of buying a costume for his daughter. Nothing could be found because it was so popular.
With just a few minutes to spare, audience questions were taken, and the full throng push by every child in the audience to ask their favorite characters a question began. What we did learn from the audience interactions was that none of the actors recorded their dialogue together. They recorded with producers reciting the other actors’ lines back, but according to the cast they felt a connection with how the others might act in the scene so that helped to fill the void.
One enthusiastic child asked Idina Menzel why Elsa had changed her dress in Frozen II. Gad was quick to pipe up and ask the child if they had ever heard of the word merchandise. This brought a chorus of laughter to the theatre. Menzel did answer the question with a thoughtful response. She explained that as times change and the years pass our clothes change, and that was why Elsa had a new look.
A girl asked about the blue chameleon in the poster and what the name was of the new character. Bell answered the question by first asking how much she could say. An audience member had a stuffed version of the new character and Bell borrowed it while looking to see if the name is on the animal. It wasn’t and to the side theatre we could all see the many Disney employees waving her off advising Bell to say little. Before returning the stuffed animal back to the audience member Bell pointed at the back of the character and said this was important pointing to a B on the back. It’s been well known and written about that the little blue chameleon is named Bruni, perhaps Bell was being cautious and not revealing the importance of Bruni.
The last question of the night, and truly the worst question of all was asked by a gentleman at the back of the theatre. He enquired from the cast if they were upset that an amazing attraction like Maelstrom at Epcot was replaced by the Frozen Ever After redo. A collective groan was heard in the theatre, but Josh Gad responded in the best way possible. He told the guy that he had all the power in the world and wasted his opportunity with that question.
The cast said thank you for such a wonderful welcome and exited stage right to a chorus of cheers and applause. Only one more week before the world can catch up on the adventures of Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Sven, and Kristoff.