Let it go? Never! Disney’s ‘Frozen’ hits Kennedy Center for wintry family fun around the holidays

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Frozen' at the Kennedy Center (Part 1)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since Disney’s “Frozen” premiered, but families will never let it go.

The Broadway musical version hits the Kennedy Center in D.C. from Dec. 20 to Jan. 21 with a snowy setting that’s perfect for this season, if you have family in town for the holidays.

“I’m from the D.C. area and … I would get Christmas presents that would be tickets to go see shows at the Kennedy Center,” Caroline Bowman a.k.a. Elsa told WTOP. “This show is such a great time. I love doing it around the holidays, it’s going to warm your heart, it’s good to come as a family to experience together, it’s a good family show and there’s not a better time. The holidays are a magical time and this is a magical show.”

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” the story sees Princess Anna leave her palace in Arendelle on a journey with iceman Kristoff, trusty reindeer Sven and zany snowman Olaf to find her estranged sister Elsa, whose magical ice powers have plunged the entire kingdom into eternal winter.

“It’s based around these two sisters, one has magical ice powers and the other one is this eccentric, excited kid,” Bowman said. “They’re best friends as kids, but an accident happens so they have to be separated. Basically, it’s this whole journey of these two sisters on their own separate journeys trying to find each other again and ultimately realizing that they’re more powerful together and that love conquers all.”

Remember, Prince Hans doesn’t get the girl like Disney movies of old, just one of the many ways that “Frozen” changed the game in the way that animated movies presented love stories and female characters.

“It’s redefining true love,” Bowman said. “In so many Disney movies that came before, we depended on true love’s kiss and the prince saving the princess. This is not that. This is about these two women realizing that their love is ultimately the most powerful of all and that they need to be with each other. … I think that female friendship and sisters, that hadn’t really been done before 2013, which is wild. That’s why it was so special.”

The film was adapted into a Tony-nominated Broadway musical in 2018 with a book by Jennifer Lee, who codirected the movie with Chris Buck, and songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who wrote the film’s Oscar-winning tunes, all of which show up here on stage along with a dozen new additions.

“Every single song from the movie is in our musical, plus we’ve got 12 more that were written by the same [songwriters],” Bowman said. “We’ve got ‘For the First Time in Forever,’ ‘Let It Go,’ ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?,’ ‘In Summer,’ ‘Fixer Upper’ [and] ‘Love is an Open Door,’ we’ve got all of those songs. The 12 new songs that were added are equally as good, if not better, even some of my favorites, so it’s just awesome.”

She feels lucky to get to sing the iconic number “Let It Go,” which was made famous by Idina Menzel.

“It is an adrenaline rush like I’ve never had before,” Bowman said. “I love it, but it’s also very technical. The song starts and it feels like a hush falls over the crowd. … My job is to make it look easy and a full release and Elsa’s finally free, but the entire crew, the entire cast, the entire orchestra is involved in making ‘Let It Go’ happen, but you only see me. There’s so much magic happening, so many exciting quick costume changes.”

Indeed, the costumes and set design are the best that Broadway has to offer.

“The Kennedy Center feels very royal to me, it feels very elevated, and that’s what our show is,” Bowman said. “Our show is a full Broadway show on the road, we have full hard-piece sets. … We’ve got our full proscenium that’s so detail oriented, it’s got little Easter eggs of other Disney shows if you look close. … Our costumes are incredible, pulled from different Norwegian fabrics and designs. We just really bring the movie to life.”

Find more information here.

Listen to our full conversation here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Frozen' at the Kennedy Center (Part 2)
Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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