The Benefits of Freezing a Relationship with Disney
While it has already been out for a couple of weeks in the US, new Disney movie Frozen is getting ready to open in Australia on Boxing Day. And it symbolises more than just a new fun-for-all-ages Disney movie. It shows an extension of Disney’s relationship with Broadway – something which will benefit both the Disney franchise and the Broadway brand.
A reinterpretation of the original Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale The Snow Queen, Disney’s Frozen will be their 53rd animated feature starring a rather remarkable cast:
- Kristen Bell as Anna, princess of Arendelle and Elsa’s younger sister
- Idina Menzel as Elsa, the Snow Queen and Anna’s elder sister
- Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, a mountain man, who owns a reindeer named Sven
- Santino Fontana as Hans, a prince from the Southern Isles
- Josh Gad as Olaf, a humorous snowman with intentions of experiencing summer
But there is one common theme through most of this cast. Four out of five of the principle cast members are big Broadway stars. Idina Menzel is best known for originating the roles of Elphaba in Wicked and Maureen in Rent. Jonathan Groff rose to fame through his role in Spring Awakening earning himself a Tony nomination. Josh Gad had a star turn in Broadway smash-hit The Book of Mormon. And Santino Fontana is currently leading the Broadway production of Cinderella in a rather similar role of the Prince.
As if this wasn’t enough, guess who has composed all the songs . . . Tony Award winning composer Robert Lopez and his wife. You may remember him from such hits as Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon.
But why is this important? After all, audiences are only hearing their voices.
Disney, the enormous publicity machine, is spreading these talented Broadway actors further than any performance on a Broadway stage. And this leads to much greater publicity for these performers who will be introduced to new audiences through a much more comfortable medium. In fact, with Idina Menzel returning to Broadway early next year with the much anticipated season of If/Then, seeing her perform in the Disney movie may provide an entirely new audience with great incentive to try out a live performance in the new show.
But I’ve got more . . .
The release of this new Disney feature was accompanied by a cast recording. A feature which is occurring in every new Disney animated feature (because they have recognised that families like movie musicals!). However, the main song of the album – Let it Go – was recorded twice. Once by Broadway standout Idina Menzel and a second time by pop favourite Demi Lovato.
You can understand completely why this song was recorded twice. Idina Menzel doesn’t have the same tween reach of Demi Lovato so through the re-recording more people will be drawn to the film than purely from the Broadway catchment.
Well, something surprising happened . . .
After last week’s release, the Demi Lovato version was ranking No. 64 on the Billboard Top 100, a little way ahead of the Idina Menzel version which came in at No. 89. But this week everything changed. Idina Menzel’s version has snuck ahead to No. 57 – one place ahead of Demi Lovato at No. 58.
Whether it is due to increased popularity of the Demi Lovato track which led listeners to the original Idina Menzel version, who knows? But it definitely shows the importance of the Disney publicity machine for Broadway!