One of my common complaints about movie musicals is that Hollywood tends to cast their productions based on the A-list status of their actors, rather than their singing ability. Over a year ago I voiced my regret that Russell Crowe and Helena Bonham-Carter were cast as leading roles in Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Les Miserables, and after screening the film last night I am sorry to report that my hesitation was justified – neither of them can sing particularly well and it definitely detracts from the overall quality of the film.
This is precisely why the recently announced cast of Disney’s upcoming animated musical Frozen fills me with overwhelming joy. Disney revealed their cast this morning via press release and it includes Broadway veterans like Jonathan Groff, Idina Menzel, and Josh Gad. Anybody who follows new musical theatre offerings will recognize the above names as some of the biggest stars on the stage today. Most importantly, they can all sing!
Jonathan Groff is best known for his leading roles in the Broadway musical Spring Awakening and the Off-Broadway revival of Hair. He also makes regular appearances on “Glee!” and has had film roles in Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock and the upcoming indie feature C.O.G. He will star in the film’s leading role as mountain man Kristoff. Check out a clip of Jonathan’s work in Spring Awakening alongside co-star Lea Michele.
Joining Groff is another rising star of stage and screen, Josh Gad, who broke out last year as Elder Cunningham in Broadway sensation The Book of Mormon. Gad’s latest film and television work has included a supporting role in the film Love and Other Drugs and on the new television sitcom “1600 Penn.” Check out a clip of Josh Gad’s hilarity in The Book of Mormon.
Idina Menzel is one of the most recognizable names on the Broadway stage with starring roles in mega-hits like RENT, The Wild Party, and Wicked. Her film work has included Enchanted (in which she curiously did not sing) and RENT (in which she obviously did). Check out a clip of Idina singing a song that is now definitively hers, “Defying Gravity” from Wicked.
Additional cast included Kristen Bell, who is known more for her film and television work than anything on stage, but she was a graduate of the musical theatre program at the Tisch School at NYU. Some additional icing on the cake for musical theatre fans is the fact that Avenue Q and Book of Mormon composer Robert Lopez will be doing the original music for this film along with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
This film seems to be tailor-made for fans of musical theatre and Disney has gotten me very excited. The film will be directed by Surf’s Up and Tarzan director Chris Buck along with Wreck-It Ralph screenwriter Jennifer Lee. Check out the complete synopsis from the press release below:
Walt Disney Animation Studios presents “Frozen,” the most daring comedy-adventure ever to hit the big screen. When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna (voice of Kristen Bell), a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, an amazing and comedic snowman named Olaf, Everest-like conditions and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction.
The film will be released in the U.S. on November 27, 2013.
Do the cast and crew for this animated musical make you excited? Are any of you as geeky about musical theatre as me?