'Frozen' closes on Broadway, a popular show iced by COVID-19

Chris Jones
Chicago Tribune

Disney Theatrical said Thursday that it has decided to let Broadway's "Frozen" go. For good.

The high-profile Broadway musical, one of three Disney attractions iced by the prolonged COVID-19 shutdown, will not reopen once Broadway returns.

Cast and crew were told they would not be returning as Elsa, Anna, Olaf or even Sven the Reindeer on Thursday. The show, with book by Jennifer Lee and a score by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez opened on March 22, 2018, and will be exiting after 825 performances.

However, the planned international productions and national tour are still expected to continue, as the authorities and audience confidence allows.

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"Frozen," which had a difficult gestation out of town and suffered mixed reviews, was never a hit on the level of "The Lion King" or even "Aladdin." But in its better weeks, the modestly successful show was profitable and generally played to full houses often filled with fervent young fans in costume. In particular, the attraction did well in the weeks following the movie release of "Frozen 2."

A Disney spokesman said Thursday that the show was fully viable before COVID-19 hit and that, prior to the pandemic, it had not been Disney's intention to close the production.

Broadway shut down March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Disney doubtless is trying to anticipate the state of Broadway once the shuttered street returns, whenever that might be.

The highly successful theatrical unit had three family shows, all popular with and reliant on domestic and international tourists. With no clarity as to when visitors will be allowed to return to New York, let alone any assurance that they will return in sufficient numbers to support all that Disney product, the cutback to two shows appears judicious.

The Broadway League announced this week it was canceling performances of all shows through at least after the Labor Day holiday. Productions have been dark since March 12, when the pandemic was on the upswing.