Monday, December 30, 2013

The 7 Reasons Why FROZEN is Disney's Version of WICKED

Image: IMDb 2013
About a month ago now, a beautiful new animated Disney musical arrived in theatres utilizing the talents of some of today's most pronounced Broadway names. Frozen was Disney's first animated musical since Tangled (2010), but almost more significantly, it was the first hugely successful one with which Alan Menken was not involved since Tarzan in 1999.

As I was watching the movie though, all I could think was that Frozen is strikingly like Wicked. Granted, I'm sure that Wicked was on the brain for many Broadway fans as they watched Frozen and heard the voice of Wicked's original Elphaba coming out of a little cartoon blonde princess (am I the only one who was thrown off by that sight/sound combination?). Regardless, this Disney hit is undeniably like Broadway's best musical of the decade (as Entertainment Weekly called it), and here's why:

1. Both Frozen and Wicked are centered around two girls (rather than just one, as is more traditional), portrayed by a Kristen and Idina. Mind blown.

Idina Menzel (Elphaba) and Kristin Chenoweth (G(a)linda) in Wicked, Photo by Joan Marcus

2. In Frozen and Wicked, Idina plays the unpopular, almost pessimistic daughter of a prominent political official (Elsa in Frozen, and Elphaba in Wicked) who is struggling to find her identity.

3. Both Elsa and Elphaba (similar names, right?) have an inexplicable power they cannot control but decide to embrace and sing a big empowerment solo about it. I think we could seamlessly throw "So if you care to find me..." into any part of "Let it Go," and no one would notice.


4. Both Elsa and Elphaba unwillingly have powers which get them shunned, necessitating fleeing to the nearest available remote castle (or just making one, as Elsa does).

5. Kristen Bell voices Anna in Frozen who, like Kristin Chenoweth's G(a)linda in Wicked, is a peppy, fun-loving girl who just wants to live a fairy tale with her perfect man. Both Anna and G(a)linda immediately fall in love with a guy who turns out not to love them back, and have to eventually grow up in their own ways.

6. Both shows have music by a Broadway-turned-Disney composer/lyricist. Frozen's composer Robert Lopez first wrote music and lyrics for Avenue Q and Book of Mormon before joining the prestigious House of Mouse. Similarly, Wicked's composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz had Pippin and Godspell under his Broadway belt before he collaborated with Alan Menken on Disney's Pochahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Enchanted (not to mention going solo on the non-Disney Prince of Egypt).

7. BONUS: Frozen hit theatres almost exactly 10 years and 1 month after Wicked officially opened on Broadway.

Some of these could have been more than one reason I suppose, but did I miss any similarities between Wicked and Frozen? What other plot comparisons have you made?

Read More:
Frozen (IMDb)
Wicked (PlaybillVault)
Tangled (IMDb)
Robert Lopez (PlaybillVault)
Stephen Schwartz (PlaybillVault, IMDb)
Alan Menken (IMDb)

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

29 comments:

  1. I haven't seen Frozen yet, but you're so right! That's awesome. Great article!

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  2. You must see it!! I decided to forego a review on it, but I will say that I think it's the best Disney movie since Lion King. Thanks for reading!

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  3. Also, in the German, Dutch, Danish and Hebrew versions of Frozen, the voice actresses playing Elsa also played Elphaba in Wicked :-)

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  4. Oh cool! I hadn't heard that! Yeah actually I just looked it up and found a great international montage of "Let it Go" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1twepFoH7s

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  5. I think you could also look at how the father of both stories affected Elsa/Elphaba's view of herself and of reality.

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  6. That's a great point! I hadn't thought of that, though I feel like it would be hard considering neither father- particularly Elsa's- is very developed. But you could definitely make a case for it anyway. Thanks for the input!

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  7. Also both Elsa and Elphaba's future personality is controlled by a belief that it is her job to protect her sister, after some tragic accident each feels is her fault.

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  8. Oh my gosh, yes!! That is so brilliant, I wish I'd thought of that, because it's definitely essential to the core of each girl's being. Thanks for the input!

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  9. In the book Wicked, Elphaba goes to walk in water and the water freezes under her feet. In Frozen, Elsa runs across a lake and the water freezes under her feet!

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  10. I haven't read the book, but wow! It's just crazy how the characters are really identical. Thanks for joining the conversation!

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  11. I think both Elphaba and Elsa love and care for their sisters immensely!
    They are both protective older sisters!
    I think Elphaba and Elsa's foes find out she loves and cares for her sister and use that to get her where they want her.
    Madam Morrible has the house fall on Nessa so Elphaba will go to help her and be captured.
    Hans tells Elsa Anna is dead because of her to weaken her through grief so he can kill her.
    Both Elphaba and Elsa are powerful and have power their foes do not have, but her love for her sister is an Achilles heel for both women.

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  12. Great points! Very in depth analysis. Thank you for sharing!

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  13. I agree with a lot of that. When I first saw "Frozen" I thought it was a lot like "Wicked" in a lot of ways. So many sense and interpretations of movie leave it to reassemble each other.

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  14. Yeah, there are so many elements that are just alike between the two of them, whether it be plot or characterization, there's a plethora of things to draw parallels between. Thanks for reading!

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  15. Both WICKED and Frozen have a name that is a single word adjective.

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  16. You kind of touched on this but:
    "Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free" Elsa.
    "And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free" Elphaba.

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  17. Oh yeah! I think the single word title thing is pretty trendy these days (e.g., Tangled, Inception, Blended, etc.). But yeah, great observation.

    Ok, that lyric parallel is totally blowing my mind right now. So true!! Thanks for chiming in!

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  18. It is every bit more like Wicked than the Snow Queen by HCA. This story by HCA has had a special place in my childhood and I've seen other media that has alluded to it very well. I dislike it when people call these actual Snow Queen allusions made before this film Frozen copies though...that just shows that people don't know the Snow Queen as it was written by HCA. It saddens me since the actual story is an amazing story.

    Nevertheless, this is a great Disney success and I enjoyed it as a movie and story on its own. It isn't a disney princess movie though. It's much more, like Brave is.

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  19. Interesting. I haven't read HCA's original Snow Queen book, but I'm not surprised that Disney changed the plot, as they have done with just about every movie they've made. However, I'm pleased with how they've created some great new stories- especially Frozen.

    Yes, I'd definitely call this a general adventure story like Aladdin or Lion King, not a traditional princess one, which was again a breath of fresh air. I think that's one of the main reasons that Frozen feels so fresh and not mechanical.

    Thanks so much for joining the conversation!

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  20. I am so sick of Frozen lol I am the only one probably. Wow the similarities are scary. Didn't know half of this. Now I need to see Wicked so I can truly see how they match up.

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  21. I feel like I must be the last adult to see Frozen, ever! But I have to agree that it's the kids version of Wicked!

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  22. This just had me smiling. SO SO true!

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  23. Great compare and contrast. They are also BOTH based on fairy tales and written stories. Frozen was actually meant to be the "snow queen" before they went in the different direction of casting.

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  24. Agree, that this is a great compare and contrast! I have seen Wicked and Frozen, and can see the similarities. I have to admit that I got teary eyed seeing Wicked and when I first saw Frozen when her parents die. Both are great stories!

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  25. What a great thought! I never even looked at it this way but makes so much sense

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  26. I'm a believer! The biggest difference between the two is that Elsa was loved by her parents. "Another demonstration of Elphaba's innate power occurs when she rescues the infant snow monkey which she later names Chistery: Seeing the monkey stranded on an island in the middle of a lake, Elphaba feels compelled to save him, and runs toward the island despite her mortal allergy to water. As her feet make contact with the surface of the lake, a pane of ice forms beneath them, allowing her to reach the island unharmed. The others in the caravan speculate that the lake had previously been enchanted by a magician, but when Liir recalls the incident in Son of a Witch, he claims that "The world conformed itself to suit her needs", implying that Elphaba did indeed cause the ice to appear, as well as possibly categorizing this power as a form of reality warping. Of course, Liir was rather young at the time, and as he himself admits, he may simply have over-romanticized the incident in his mind." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elphaba#Powers_and_abilities

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  27. I'm a believer! The biggest difference between the two is that Elsa was loved by her parents. "Another demonstration of Elphaba's innate power occurs when she rescues the infant snow monkey which she later names Chistery: Seeing the monkey stranded on an island in the middle of a lake, Elphaba feels compelled to save him, and runs toward the island despite her mortal allergy to water. As her feet make contact with the surface of the lake, a pane of ice forms beneath them, allowing her to reach the island unharmed. The others in the caravan speculate that the lake had previously been enchanted by a magician, but when Liir recalls the incident in Son of a Witch, he claims that "The world conformed itself to suit her needs", implying that Elphaba did indeed cause the ice to appear, as well as possibly categorizing this power as a form of reality warping. Of course, Liir was rather young at the time, and as he himself admits, he may simply have over-romanticized the incident in his mind." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elphaba#Powers_and_abilities

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  29. Hi fellas,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article really!
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