amBroadway: ‘Frozen’ closing down for good, Tony Awards replaced by ‘Grease’ and more

Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews

‘Frozen’ will not reopen on Broadway

In an ominous sign of just how difficult it may be for Broadway to stage a comeback following the coronavirus shutdown, Disney Theatrical Productions has announced that “Frozen” will not reopen. The musical (based on the mega-hit 2013 computer-animated film) opened in 2018 to mixed reviews and has performed decently at the box office but far below original expectations. In a statement, Disney Theatrical Productions president Thomas Schumacher said that it would have been too difficult to maintain three Disney musicals – “The Lion King,” “Aladdin” and Frozen” – at once in the current economic environment. Disney simultaneously revealed that it is at work on stage musical adaptations of “Hercules,” “The Jungle Book, “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and “The Princess Bride” and revivals of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aida.”

‘Grease’ replaces the Tony Awards

As previously reported, this year’s Tony Awards ceremony (originally scheduled for June 7, 2020) have been indefinitely postponed. In its place, CBS will air a sing-a-long version of the movie musical “Grease” – a move that has not been especially well-received by the Broadway community, which had hoped that CBS would broadcast some other kind of programming celebrating Broadway. “Whose grandmother’s idea was this? (no offense, Nana) Leave the sing-a-longs to Disney and give live theatre back the one night of respect it gets per year,” actor Jeremy Jordan (“Newsies”) wrote on Twitter.

IATSE endorses Biden

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union representing stage technicians on Broadway and throughout the U.S., has endorsed Joe Biden for President of the U.S. “Joe Biden has consistently lifted up and prioritized issues affecting IATSE members and their families – from protecting workers’ rights to organize a union and bargain for higher wages and benefits, to defending our earned pension checks and healthcare,” the union wrote in a press release.

 ‘MJ’ pushes back debut to next spring

The Michael Jackson bio musical “MJ,” originally slated to premiere on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre this summer, will instead open there next spring, with opening night scheduled for April 15, 2021. Ephraim Sykes  (“Ain’t Too Proud”) is still attached to play Jackson. “MJ” is being co-produced by the Michael Jackson Estate, which suggests that it will gloss over the most controversial aspects of the superstar’s life. 

This week’s streaming recommendations:

  1. Love Letters (Bryan Cranston and Sally Field perform virtual reading of A.R. Gurney’s wistful two-hander) May 21 at 8 p.m., broadwaysbestshows.com.
  2. Don Giovanni (Joan Sutherland stars in 1978 Met telecast of Mozart opera), May 22 at 7:30 p.m., metopera.org
  3. Our Lady of 121st Street (members of the original Off-Broadway cast of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ urban drama reunite for virtual reading), May 23 at 8 p.m., labtheater.org.
  4. Mad Forest (virtual reimagining of Caryl Churchill’s play about the Romanian Revolution of 1989, presented by Theatre for a New Audience with student actors), May 22, 24 and 27, tfana.org.
  5. A Streetcar Named Desire (Gillian Anderson stars as Blanche DuBois in a modernized reimagining of Tennessee Williams’ classic 1947 drama, which was previously shown in movie theaters as part of the NT Live series), through May 27, nationaltheatre.org.uk.

Spotted at the theater…

No one.