Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell and the rest of the Frozen cast took the stage for a private concert. And that means Disney is finally accepting that sometimes it's better to let the Broadway singers take central stage — instead of hiding them in the shadows and foregrounding terrible pop-recreations of their movie hits.
Bell (voice of Anna), Menzel (voice of Elsa), Josh Gad (voice of Olaf) and Santino Fontana (voice of Hans) took to the stage in California to celebrate the massive success of the Frozen soundtrack. Naturally, we all freaked out, because Idina Menzel. But there's also the fact that witnessing Disney highlight the movie's original voice talent in such a public manner gives us hope for the future of Disney musicals. Perhaps now Disney's original voice talent will no longer have to see their work get eclipsed by over-stylized pop singers.
Before the opening of Frozen, Disney hawked the considerably less epic Demi Lovato version of "Let it Go." It was not great (but then again, going up against a Menzel original is a losing battle). And then FINALLY, Disney realized one of these things is not like the other, and released the original Idina Menzel version. And whammo — the tune was a hit. A huge hit. Cue the snowflake parades and amazing live Frozen shows. Disney is falling all over itself to praise its singing cast, and for the first time in forever, we finally feel like Disney gets it. By bringing out the original voice talent and letting them do what they do best, Disney is showcasing the sorcerers behind the highly guarded Disney magic.
Alas, Disney hardly ever makes a big show of its voice talent. People are constantly flummoxed when they realize big name stars often voiced their favorite characters (Matthew Broderick is Simba? Mel Gibson is John Smith?) and this applies twice over for the singers who lend their pipes to these movies' soundtracks.
I will always choose Judy Kuhn's "Colors of the Wind" over Vanessa Williams' version. Brad Kane & Lea Salonga's original movie version of "A Whole New World" dominates over Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle's song (although holy hell Bryson and Belle are a talented duo of singers). Same goes for Angela Lansbury's "Beauty and the Beast - Tale As Old As Time" versus the Celine Dion and Peobo Bryson track. And Lea Salonga's heart-wrenching take on "Reflection" will always make me tear up, no matter how much I love Christina Aguilera.
What do all these replaced singers have in common? MASSIVE BROADWAY TALENT. Lea Salonga is a Broadway god and Disney was lucky to get her, in two movies! Too long have these massive stars been shoved behind-the-curtain, Singing in the Rain-style.
So highlighting the voice cast of Frozen is kind of a big deal, because let's be honest, Idina Menzel made this movie. Thank goodness she's getting the curtain call she deserves. And fingers crossed this opens the door for more attention on the often overlooked singers from past Disney movies (like the amazing Anika Noni Rose).
True, not all Disney films are equipped with a blow-out ballad like "Let if Go." Tarzan was almost entirely backed by Phil Collins and his drums. And Rose was never given a great stand out song in The Princess and the Frog. Plus Frozen had the very good fortune of being scripted and scored by actual musical creators. So this movie was set up to hit right in the Broadway sweet spot. However, it would be awesome if, in the future, Broadway stars got the front row treatment from here on out.
To celebrate here's a little clip from the performance (courtesy of THR) and a few images from the night (because watching these folks sing together makes us happy).