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Exclusive: Choreographer Rob Ashford Gives Us All the Deets on Broadway's 'Frozen'

Jelani Alladin (left) as Kristoff and Patti Murin (right) as Anna in Frozen (photo by Deen Van Meer, courtesy Samuel Deangelis)

Everyone's favorite animated Disney movie—starring Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and, of course, "Let It Go"—is headed to the stage. Frozen begins previews this month at Broadway's St. James Theatre and will officially open in March. The good news? It'll feature all of your favorite movie moments. The even better news? There'll be tons more dancing in the show than in the film, thanks to choreographer Rob Ashford (of Thoroughly Modern Millie, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and live television events "The Sound of Music Live!" and "Peter Pan Live!" fame). Dance Spirit spoke to Ashford to get all the cool details.

Frozen begins previews February 22nd and opens March 22nd.


What first drew you to Frozen?

Well, I love the animated film. It's terrific and it has a beautiful score. But what was very liberating was that there's not a lot of dance in it. I thought, "What a wonderful opportunity to find how this piece dances, and where the dance exists in the story of Elsa and Anna."

What's the choreography like?

The show has two worlds: There's a mythological world, the world of the hidden people in the mountains, and then there's also a fairy-tale world. It's been a great challenge to define the movement of these two different worlds and to make them unique. Because of this, the choreography is a hybrid of dance styles. There certainly is classic musical theater movement, but there's also a more contemporary feel to a lot of the dance vocabulary.

What was your overall vision for the dance?

I believe dance in a musical should always be about storytelling, but I also think it can be a real joy and very entertaining. So, there are some comic moments inside the show that I tried to mine for the dance. I wanted the choreography
to define the time and the place, but also to help tell the story.

Have there been any challenges?

Frozen demands elaborate costumes, and that's been a good challenge. Christopher Oram, our designer, has made some incredible things, but it's difficult to keep the truth of the movement when the dancers are in layers of period clothing. The costumes called for a rethink of some of the moves and some of the lifts.

What's your favorite part of the show?

One of my favorite dances is when Anna and Hans first meet, and they sing "Love is an Open Door." They're these two awkward and overzealous young people finding each other, and the way that they dance together was a lot of fun to create. The audience seems to love it, too.


A version of this story appeared in the February 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Winter Is Coming... to Broadway."

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