Childlike impulses and love warm the heart of "Frozen," the stage musical
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — There is no greater joy than when your child goes out into the world and achieves success beyond your wildest expectations.
That's what is going on in the lives of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. They are the married couple who created the music and lyrics for "Frozen."
The national theatrical tour of "Frozen" opens at Proctors on Sunday and plays through Nov. 24 at the Schenectady venue. On Nov. 22, "Frozen 2," the sequel to the 2013 mega-hit film, opens in movie houses across the country. The Lopez' also wrote the music for that film.
Yes, the off-spring of Mr. and Mrs. Lopez have done very well for themselves.
Make no mistake about it, the couple regard Anna and Elsa, the central figures in "Frozen" as much their children as the two human babies they gave life to. "Anna and Elsa sprang from us. We birthed them," said Kristen in a joint telephone interview that included her husband, Robert, who prefers to be called Bobby.
She adds that the fictional characters also have the creator's DNA. and personalities. "Bobby is Elsa, and I'm Anna," she said, without going into specific detail.
Bobby insists that love is at the heart of "Frozen." "Once we realized that the story was about our relationship, the music flowed out of us. The turning point was being able to write about the many different ways love is expressed and how it can be seen from different eyes."
The couple were married in 2011. When asked how long they have been writing together, Kristen replied, "So long that we no longer know exactly how long it's been."
Bobby estimates 15-18 years. "It's at the point where we're no longer sure who wrote what, when," he said. Kristen laughs as she says, "We used to keep score, but now it's all about trust."
For the original film the couple wrote 25 songs. Only eight made it to the screen for a total of about 23 minutes. The Broadway show is nearly 2 hours long and almost totally sung. It would seem logical that the discarded songs for the film might have found their way to the stage.
"No," said Bobby. "Any song that wasn't used in the film was left on the (cutting room) floor. Each was connected to a specific scene. As the film took shape, those scenes were lost and the songs with them. The songs added for Broadway are all new."
He does cite one exception. "There is a flashback when the two sisters sing a song attached to a special hand-clapping moment that bonded them. We loved that scene and thought something like that was needed in the stage production, so we went to our trunk and brought it back out."
The Lopez name is also associated with the major Broadway hits "The Book of Mormon" and "Avenue Q."
However, each of them started their careers writing for the children's theater company TheatreWorks, USA. Also included in their bios are youth-oriented titles like "Finding Nemo-the Musical," "Winnie the Pooh," "Gigantic" (a retelling of "Jack and the Beanstalk') and "Coco," a story about the mystic travels of a 12-year old Mexican boy.
Kristen sounded gleeful when she admitted the pair's affinity for childlike experiences. "I've always felt like a big 10-year-old. I think of myself as approaching life from a childlike space. I am the Universal Baby. "
"When I first met Bobby, I knew he was a kindred spirit," she continued. "He lives life with a subversive joy. He's like a playful kid who is always trying to change the rules."
Bobby agrees. "I'm always trying to challenge my inner child. I strive to find simple clarity in everything I do without dumbing it down," he said. "It sounds simple, but it's a lot of work to be honest and complex without being confusing. The goal is to boil everything down to its essence, without seeming false."
He adds that humor is the key to breaking the code. "We are able to find a light touch in the darkest situations," he says. Kristen interrupts and adds, "We're hilarious at funerals."
They're also pretty good at musical theater, too.
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