Theater Talk


Frozen | The Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin

Academy Award-winning composer-lyricists Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez discuss turning their 2013 hit Disney film Frozen into to a musical. President of The Broadway League, Charlotte St. Martin, talks about the responsibilities of wrangling producers all over the world. She also discusses preparing for the 2018 Tony Awards, and Broadway Bridges for public high school students.

AIRED: April 23, 2018 | 0:27:07

>> HASKINS: Coming up on

"Theater Talk"...


dating years, we would watch

this show and go...

And I would dream about being on

this show one day.

>> HASKINS: Oh, you're so nice!

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: Thank you so


>> LOPEZ: Before we even had


[ Laughter ]

>> ELSA: ♪ Come to knock down

the door ♪

♪ I can't hide this time

like I hid before ♪

>> HASKINS: From New York City,

this is "Theater Talk."

I'm Susan Haskins, and I am

joined by my guest co-host,

Elisabeth Vincentelli of

The New York Times,

The New Yorker, and

"Three on the Aisle,"

the podcast we all adore, and we

are so happy to be joined by

Kristen Anderson-Lopez and

Robert Lopez, who are packing

them in at their musical

"Frozen," now at the

St. James Theatre.

They, of course, wrote the

lyrics and songs for the megahit

movie, and now you've written

how many more songs for this



depends how you count, but I

think it's 12 to 14,

depending if you count reprises

and new material with old


>> HASKINS: Elisabeth and I have

been pondering "Frozen," and we

have some questions for you,


>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: First, can we

say how excited we are to be


I've been...

We've been watching you...

Early dating years, we would

watch this show and go...

And I would dream about being on

this show one day.

>> HASKINS: Oh, you're so nice!

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: Thank you so


>> LOPEZ: Before we even had


She would have to sit...

She would have to lie down on

her back.

Her feet were somehow the

antenna of the cable.


It was not good.

I had to use sort of my leg as a

conductor of the waves

out in Astoria to get our TV to

not be too staticky.

It sounds weird, and it was.

>> HASKINS: Well, I hope you got

a better TV.

[ Laughter ]

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: Things have

gotten better.

>> HASKINS: Elisabeth?

>> VINCENTELLI: Well, the movie,

I think, everybody knows, and a

certain song, everybody knows.

But was it pretty obvious very

early on that there would be a

stage version?

And when did they tell you,

"Okay, now you guys have to go

back and just

crank out some more"?

>> LOPEZ: We thought, in our

deepest, fondest hopes, that we

would get to do it for Broadway

because we had a lot more to say

by the time the movie came out.

And we weren't sure, and

I think it was --

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: We used to

joke often...

If something fell

on the floor -- and there were

at least 16 songs during the

development of the "Frozen"

movie that fell on the floor --

and we would turn to each other

and go, "Ah, well, we'll put it

in the Broadway."

>> LOPEZ: That's polite talk for

saying the song is out.

[ Laughter ]


>> VINCENTELLI: But you still

held on to them?

>> LOPEZ: Sure. Sure.

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: And we used

none of it except for eight bars

of a little chant in the

opening number of

the cut songs from the movie.

>> LOPEZ: Yeah. All the new

stuff was written expressly for

the musical.

>> HASKINS: How much was the

movie influenced by what you had

to say?

How much was the story of that

movie, the trajectory of that

movie, and yes, "Let It Go,"

where I wonder so much, how was

that coming from your centers?

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: Well, I would

say that every day, we spoke

with Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck,

our music team, and the two of

us on a little TV in Burbank,

every single day for several

hours, I would say, for about a


And that was when, bit by bit by

bit, we would talk about what

Anna wants, who's Anna,

what Elsa wants, who's Elsa?

I think Jennifer Lee and Chris,

I give them both incredible

kudos for when we wrote

"Let It Go," Jennifer Lee was

like, "I love this song.

And now we have to rewrite

everything else in the movie

to earn 'Let It Go.'"

You're not always lucky enough

to have generous

collaborators --

>> HASKINS: Well, but how smart

it was.

Oh, my God.

Could you have imagined what

"Let It Go" would become?

>> LOPEZ: Never in a million


We were still writing for

Elsa the villain at that moment.

We wanted a moment where she

pivoted from the sort of

buttoned-up, straitlaced kid

with a secret

and became what we knew she had

to become, which was the

Snow Queen, and so we thought,

"Oh, there's a place --

that song will stay."

But we tried to put in little

hints of the dark side to which

she'd eventually turn because at

the end of the movie,

she was supposed to come down

the mountain with an army of

mutant snowmen and attack


>> VINCENTELLI: Oh, my God!

I love this.

>> LOPEZ: We put, you know,

"Let the storm rage on" and all

these --

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: "The cold

never bothered me, anyway,"


Like, there are traces of

villain in Elsa, which is

interesting because in any

powerful any

three-dimensional woman, we all

have pieces of ourselves that

can get angry and vengeful, and

that's one of the things that I

think we love about Elsa

and that we wanted to look at

and go a little bit deeper in

Act II with the Broadway --

>> HASKINS: She's misunderstood.


misunderstood, but she's a

three-dimensional person who

has these powers that she can

use for good or evil.

That's why toddlers and

6-year-olds love Elsa, because

she gives voice not only to

magic, but also she's a good,

wonderful character, who also

says things like "Let the storm

rage on" and slams doors.

>> VINCENTELLI: I was curious

about one of the new songs,

"Monster," which is really her

big "Who am I? What am I doing?"


Did you guys decide, okay, she

needs something at this point to

explain what's going on, to

verbalize it?

How was that decided with like

Jennifer Lee, who wrote the book

also for the show?

>> LOPEZ: We met with Jen and

a few other people,

Tom Schumacher included,

and had a big sort of confab

about how we would lay out this

new musical and what the new

structure would demand --

two acts, and the songs don't

stop near the end, the way they

do in the movie because in the

movie, you have action.

In the movie, we had Hans and

the men come up to the castle.

He fought the big snow monster,

and then he confronted Elsa.

There was a big action scene.

But what we had to do was turn

it into a song -- tell the story

through music and emotion.

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: And in the

movie, you get a lot of

information through close-up for

all of Elsa's emotions.

And when we were turning it

into a Broadway musical, we had

to replace close-up with song.

And at this point, if you really

go into Elsa's head and even

back when we were working on the

movie in 2013, when we explored

"What is really going on?"

She knows she's done something

to her sister again.

She knows people are coming for


She knows her own people

are dying in the winter.

And the truth is she would be

having the thought at that

moment, "Do I stop this whole

thing by stopping myself?"


>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: And she'd be

looking at herself and

wondering, "Am I a monster?

Is this shame that I've had my

whole life for who I am


Like, "Did they know when they

said, 'Conceal it,' did they

know that I could do this much


And that's rich

territory for a song.

>> ELSA: ♪ If I'm a monster

♪ Then it's true

♪ There's only one thing

that's left for me to do ♪

♪ But before I fade to ice,

I'll do all that I can

to make things right ♪

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: We ask the

question, and then we see her

push through it and say, "I

don't know how I'm going to

solve this, but I am going to

solve this."

Her sister solves it.

And that's part of the story of

empathy that we are excited

about telling with this piece,

empathy that sisters can have

for each other.

>> HASKINS: Well, and that you

have the solution with the

sister and not with some

boyfriend for Elsa...


>> HASKINS: ...ever is she

turning to a male to solve her


>> VINCENTELLI: Or a female --

because I have my theory about


[ Laughter ]

...which I will save for

"Frozen 2."

>> LOPEZ: You know, one of the

cool things about developing the

movie -- and the same with

the Broadway show, too, because

we had Jen Lee as well,

was having two females in the

creative room, in the creative

space, because so often, you

know, and I felt this way

when I was starting out, I

thought, "You know, most writers

are men.

Writers are men."

And when there was a woman

around, there'd usually be one

woman, and she'd be a lone voice

saying, "I kind of think this,"

and everyone would be like,

"Okay, that's great --

that's what she thinks."

But having Kristen and Jen in

the room, when the guys in the

room would say, "Well, we have

Hans, we have Anna, we have

Elsa...maybe Anna and Elsa both

like Hans.

Maybe they fight about him."

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: And then Jen,

then I would go, I'd go, "Nope.

Nope. Nope.

Guys, we've seen that story.

We know that story."

And then Jen being in the room,

she would say, "No.

We're not doing that."

>> HASKINS: Yeah.

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: That we...

And the power of two women

in the story room is what will

bring us new stories and new


And it's been amazing watching

Bobby... I sort of tease him.

I'm like, "You're all woke now."

But it's been amazing watching

Bobby's lens widen

from spending time in the story

room with women.

>> VINCENTELLI: You guys have a

real pop sensibility

in your writing, and I was

curious as to who...

Who do you listen to?

Like, what, who do you...

Do you have people that...

>> LOPEZ: You know, one of the

people we started really

listening to around the time of

"Frozen" was Sara Bareilles.


>> LOPEZ: She was seriously on

our playlist back then.

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: I was running

in the park playing --

'cause one of my favorite things

to do is to just run in

Prospect Park and listen to

girl singer-songwriters.

So we were listening to

Sara Bareilles.

We were listening

to Aimee Mann.

>> LOPEZ: We were always

listening to Aimee Mann.


listening to Tori Amos.

Especially for Elsa, we were

trying to...

We knew that she was not going

to be the Disney princess who

was like,

♪ "Oh, the sun is

shining today! ♪

Like, we knew that she was going

to have a rock and roll edge to


And yet you can't go so far

that she's all groove based.

It's interesting with pop songs,

and sometimes why pop writers

can have a hard time bridging

to Broadway is that everything

is about groove, and then you

can't hear the lyrics.

And in Broadway, you can only

hear the lyrics once.

The audience, especially before

the cast album is released,

which usually is two to three

months after the first preview

has started.

And so your show needs to

survive on somebody sitting in

the dark understanding every

objective, every choice that's

made with one listen to the

lyric, and if you're competing

with like a growling guitar

and a drum groove,

it can be very hard.

>> LOPEZ: When things repeat on

Broadway, they have to grow and

intensify and climb, whereas in

pop, repetition is important for

it to kind of...

for things to repeat exactly.

>> HASKINS: And I think, Bobby,

of your hits before "Frozen,"

that you have -- "Avenue Q" and

then the wonderful

"Book of Mormon" -- that you

already were grappling very

successfully with that problem.

>> Huh.

>> HASKINS: You know, that you

had some groove, but you had

memorable lyrics and songs that

we were listening to and

getting, the first time.

Now, before we go, I consulted

my favorite "Frozen" fans,

my nieces Emma Kate and Audrey,

and they had some questions for

you, so I said I would ask them.

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: Oh, good.

>> HASKINS: They gave me some

good ones.

"Did you think 'Frozen' would

become this popular?"

>> LOPEZ: When we were doing the

show, we just wanted it to be

baseline good.

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: You mean the


>> LOPEZ: The movie, yes.

>> HASKINS: The movie.

>> LOPEZ: We were fighting to

take something that didn't work

and make it basically work,

and --

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: We thought we

were going down.

We thought this was it.

This was the first really big

job we had done together,

and I was like, "Well, that's

the end of this collaboration"

because there were some really

bad screenings, and that's also

part of the process of these

Disney movies, is they take a

long time.

They're so huge, and they

involve so many moving parts

that sometimes you can have the

right ending, but you just get

there the wrong way, and, you

know, things like...

Elsa had spiky blue hair and

froze her sister's heart and

kidnapped her from her own

wedding and tried to kill

the city of Arendelle.

Like, that was one of the


We're in a similar place in

"Frozen 2" right now, and so

it's good to talk about this and

remember, you know, you've got

certain things that are working

great and other things where

you're like, "We really need to

go deeper."

>> VINCENTELLI: What stage is

"Frozen 2," what kind of --

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: Oh, we're

going into our second screening?

>> LOPEZ: Something like that.

>> VINCENTELLI: Oh, wow.


But you get --

>> LOPEZ: It's all in...

It's just like the

black-and-white drawings phase

right now.

There's no animation yet.

It's still in the birthing.


know, we're still sitting around

the table, asking questions like

"What can we use 'Frozen'...

How can we use the 'Frozen'

franchise to make

the world a better place?

And what does the world need to

hear from Anna and Elsa, and

what do we have to contribute to


We're still asking those giant


>> HASKINS: And what's the

budget of this production?



Disney doesn't talk about money.

>> LOPEZ: Was that one of your

nieces' questions?

>> VINCENTELLI: Yes, it is.

It's right there.


don't worry about money.

>> HASKINS: But I'm going to end

with one of my nieces' wonderful


"How do you like doing


>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: I love them!

>> LOPEZ: Yeah, I think I'll do

another one.

>> HASKINS: That's a good


Now, as we've run out of time,

Elisabeth, what a pleasure to

have you here...

>> VINCENTELLI: Oh, it's a

pleasure to be here.

>> HASKINS: ...with Robert and

Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

Come back

for the next one, please.

>> ANDERSON-LOPEZ: Yes, please.

>> ELSA: ♪ Am I just a monster

in a cage? ♪

>> ENSEMBLE: ♪ End this winter,

bring back summer ♪

♪ Keep your guard up

>> HANS: ♪ No harm comes

to her ♪

>> HASKINS: Here with me is my

utterly delightful co-host,

actor Julie Halston.

We call you an actor now,

Julie Halston.

>> HALSTON: That's right.

It's very grand.

I'm happy to be here.

>> HASKINS: Tony season has just

begun, and the theater community

begins the countdown to the

ceremony on June 10, when the

winners will be announced.

The Tony Awards are managed by

two organizations --

the American Theatre Wing, led

by Heather Hitchens, and

the Broadway League, which is

led by its muscle and president,

Charlotte St. Martin.

Charlotte is the president of

the organization since...

Well, you began there in 2006,

and then you became the

president in what, 2015, right?

>> ST. MARTIN: That's correct.

>> HASKINS: That's right.

Tell us a little bit about the

Broadway League.

>> ST. MARTIN: Well, the

Broadway League is made up of

the people who make Broadway --

the producers, the theater

owners, the general managers,

and then the presenters, who

take these fabulous shows and

present them around our country

in 200 venues and 150 cities.

And then obviously, we have

international presence.

We're not controlling that, but

our members are.

>> HASKINS: So, Charlotte, key

programs of the Broadway League

include Kids' Night on Broadway,

the Jimmys,

Stars in the Alley,

Internet Broadway Database,,

Spotlight on Broadway,

the Commercial Theater


the Theatre Development Fund,

and Broadway Bridges, which

we're going to talk about in a

minute, and,

Charlotte St. Martin, how do you

manage all that?

>> ST. MARTIN: We manage it with

a village.

We have an incredible staff, and

I'm so proud of our members

because over 40% of our members

participate in a committee or a

task force.

So, they're the ones that help

us make it happen.

>> HASKINS: So, Julie and I want

to know...

>> HALSTON: Yeah.

>> HASKINS: ...more about what

you do in Tony season.

>> HALSTON: Well, Tony season,

which is...

Obviously, it's almost like a,

you know, the Thoroughbreds


What's the best part of it and

the worst part of it for

the Broadway League?

>> ST. MARTIN: Well, certainly

the best part is you get to

acknowledge the outstanding work

that's been done by so many


>> HALSTON: Right.

>> ST. MARTIN: And there's

something very special about


At any given time, we'll have

over 125 nominees, so you know

these people that give their

life to this industry are being


The worst part is you know what

went into all of those, and not

everyone can win.

>> HALSTON: Right.

>> ST. MARTIN: So, other than

also in the month of April doing

20 openings and all that goes

with that, which I wouldn't call

punishment, but it is grueling.

>> HALSTON: How does the

Broadway League work with the

production of the actual show?

>> ST. MARTIN: The League, in

conjunction with the Wing and my

partner, Heather, and I,

we work very closely with the

television producers and the

members, and certainly we don't

produce the show.

Those creative people who have

won so many Emmys for the Tonys

do that.

But we certainly talk about


We talk about the other things,

the non-"particular" show-driven


We talk about the awards, the

presenters, so we're involved,

but we don't lead it.

>> HASKINS: And do you have veto


>> ST. MARTIN: On a few things.

We don't tell what we veto.

>> HASKINS: All right.

Well, I watch what you all do,

and I think, "How does she do


How does she keep her stamina up

to do this all?"

>> ST. MARTIN: Well, I grew up

in the hotel business,

which is a 24/7, and it was 24/7

before people even used that


They're 80-hour weeks, so

I obviously built up my stamina

to prepare myself for Broadway.

>> HASKINS: How did you get from

the hotel business into the

Broadway League?

>> ST. MARTIN: Well, in the

hotel business, I was literally

known as Broadway Charlotte.

I was with a major hotel to


And we held parties for 2,000 to


I always hired Broadway


And so, when this position was

being searched, three different

people recommended me, and they

said, "No one loves Broadway

more than Charlotte, and she

puts a lot of it on in her

hotels and for the industry."

So it all happened, and I'm the

luckiest person in the world

that I got to take my avocation

and make it my vocation.

>> HALSTON: What I find

fascinating because I actually

was reading about your love of

the theater, and...but, you

know, a lot of people who get

into these positions either

behind the scenes or even in a

corporate setting,

you know, they go, "Well, I

wanted to be an actress at one

time," or, "I had a dance


That was not your story.

You just happened to love the


Was this something your parents

inspired in you or you just...

Somehow you saw your first show

and said, "Oh, my gosh, I love


>> ST. MARTIN: Well, my mother

did love Broadway, and we used

to attend all of the Dallas

Summer Musicals' offerings.


>> ST. MARTIN: As a young woman.

We would save up to go get to do


And then my first boyfriend

played the king in

"The King and I."

And it was love at first sight

both for him and for the


And it just stuck with me.

I've loved it forever.

>> HASKINS: One of the important

projects you're doing now at the

Broadway League is

Broadway Bridges.

Can you tell us about that?

>> ST. MARTIN: Yes.

You're going to talk about my

passion now in addition to


The program --

the goal is to have every

high school student in

New York City see a Broadway

show before they graduate.

And it's been a dream of mine

since literally my second year

in the League.

And then we applied for a couple

of grants from

the subdistrict arts council.

We're a finalist, did not get

it, and my partner, Tory Bailey

from the Theatre Development

Fund, looked at me, and she

said, "We cannot let this go."

>> HALSTON: Yeah.

>> ST. MARTIN: "It should be the

inalienable right of every

New Yorker to see a Broadway


And that...I grabbed ahold of

that, we grabbed ahold of that,

put a committee together, and

started the program.

We just finished our first year.

We brought 7,500 students.

By the end of next year, we will

have brought 25,000 students.

So, as we build up, we will

hopefully be taking over 70,000

students to see a Broadway show

in one year.

>> HASKINS: How do you reach out

to these kids?

>> ST. MARTIN: We work very

closely with the Department of

Education and the two great

gentlemen that manage the

theater works for the DoE, and

Peter Avery and Paul King work

very closely with us in helping

us get to the teachers.

We now, of course, building up

relationships with them, and

after each part of the season --

because we do a summer and a

winter program -- and after each

of those, we actually meet with

the teachers, say, okay, how can

we improve this?

We're very fortunate that our

members jumped right onboard,

and for those shows that are

appropriate for teenagers in

high school, almost all of them

participate in the program.

>> HASKINS: Now, I would be

remiss, Charlotte, if I didn't

ask you about making theater

more accessible to adults

because I get a lot of letters

from people about ticket prices.

And in fact, yesterday, I got a

letter from one of the Friends

of "Theater Talk," Robert Cohen,

and he said that he went

to buy a ticket for a big hit --

not "Hamilton" but another big

hit -- and he wanted a ticket

for July, and they said, "Well,

you can have a premium seat in

Row Q for $300."

And he wrote and said, "Why

must Row Q be a premium seat?"

Why is it that it has to be so

expensive even for the back of

the house?

>> ST. MARTIN: The truth is, on

any given day, you can get a

good seat to a great Broadway

show for under $100.

And the average ticket price

goes from $100 to $110.

And there are anywhere from 30

to 40 shows playing at any given


So they can't all be $300.

>> HASKINS: But you

can't get that hit.

>> ST. MARTIN: You can't get

that hit right now, but every

show gets to a point that

they're available, and anybody

that tells me "Phantom" isn't as

great today as it was 30 years

ago when it opened doesn't know

how wrong they are.

We are a commercial business.

We're there to make a profit.

If we don't make a profit, there

won't be more "Hamiltons."

There won't be more

"Hello, Dollys!"

When the shows are hot, the

producers have to make hay when

the sun shines.

That said, any given day, you

can get tickets $59, $69,

$79, and this season to date,

which is almost over, we're at

88% of our seats occupied.

So a lot of people are getting a

well-priced ticket.

>> HASKINS: Now, you are a woman

running this gigantic...

I said you're the muscle -- you

really are -- running this

gigantic Broadway League, and

we're in the time of, you know,

women are reasserting their

respect issues, but you've been

a powerful force for quite some

time, but did you ever find that

there were any handicaps in you

being a woman in trying to

manage people and get people to

accommodate your will?

>> ST. MARTIN: 40 years ago,


Yes, I probably had to work

harder and longer to get that

opportunity, but I did get it.

I did prove myself, and

therefore, I got the


I would say since I've been on

Broadway, they have done nothing

but show me enormous respect

and actually were hopeful that I

could help get rid of any

perception that we don't treat

women well.

Can we treat women better?

Of course.

Can every business treat women


Of course.

But I don't have that problem at

the Broadway League.

>> HASKINS: I'll be you're


Are you tough?

>> ST. MARTIN: I have strong


>> HASKINS: Good.

>> ST. MARTIN: ...and am

persistent, which I think helps.

>> HASKINS: What would be your

biggest piece of advice for an

aspiring young

Charlotte St. Martin?

>> ST. MARTIN: The most

important thing a young person

moving into any field can do is

listen to what's going on around

them, ask the right questions,

and then not be afraid to take

any job and to volunteer for

many things.

That's certainly how I

personally got ahead.

I did my job and then I said,

"All right, what else can I do?

How else can I make a


And it trained me in so many

areas that I knew nothing about,

which prepared me for that next


And I think that's the single

best piece of advice for a young

person because so many of them,

they graduate, and they think

they should start off as my


>> HASKINS: Right.

[ Laughter ]

>> ST. MARTIN: You know, and I

respect that drive and energy,

but the reality is experience

does count.


Charlotte St. Martin, thank you

so much for coming to

"Theater Talk."

We are looking forward to the

Tony Awards, and you will be on

the broadcast, I hope.

>> ST. MARTIN: Well, they

usually take a quick glimpse of

Heather and I.

We welcome the audience before

the broadcast begins,

which is the best part.

>> HASKINS: Very good.

All right.

So we'll see you around there in

Tony season.

>> ST. MARTIN: Thank you, and

thank you for keeping up our

fabulous industry in the eyes of

the world.

>> HASKINS: Thank you.

>> HALSTON: Thank you.

>> HASKINS: Our thanks to the

Friends of "Theater Talk" for

their significant contribution

to this production.

>> ANNOUNCER: We welcome your

questions or comments for

"Theater Talk."

Thank you.


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